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Deptford culture

Approximate range of Deptford culture at maximum extent, 500 BCE - 200 CE, with Atlantic region in red and Gulf region in gold.[1]

The Deptford culture (800 BCE—700 CE) was characterized by the appearance of elaborate ceremonial complexes, increasing social and political complexity, mound burial, permanent settlements, population growth, and an increasing reliance on cultigens.


  • Definition and range 1
  • Artifacts 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4

Definition and range

Deptford is named for the Deptford area near tempered pottery decorated with the impressions of carved wooden paddles that were pressed against the vessels before they were fired. The sand-tempering distinguishes Deptford ceramics from the fiber-tempered ceramics of the late-Archaic Stallings Island/St. Simons, Orange, and Norwood cultures that preceded it. Other contemporary cultures of the southeastern United States also produced paddle decorated ceramics.(Milanich 1973, p. 51)(Milanich 1994, pp. 111–12)

The Deptford culture was oriented to the coast. From northern Georgia it spread along the Atlantic coast, reaching Cape Fear, North Carolina to the north and the mouth of the St. Johns River to the south. The Deptford culture also spread along the Gulf of Mexico coast, reaching from the Swift Creek and Santa Rosa-Swift Creek cultures around 200 CE, while the culture in the Atlantic coastal region continued until about 700.(Milanich 1973, p. 51)(Milanich 1994, pp. 112, 114–15, 142–44)

In the eastern Florida Panhandle the Deptford culture has been divided into an early Deptford period, in which fiber-tempered and Deptford series ceramics are found together, a middle Deptford period, with only Deptford series ceramics present, and a late Deptford period with both Deptford series and Swift Creek series ceramics present.(Milanich 1994, p. 114)

Archaeological sites associated with the Deptford culture include:

The sites in Leon County represent significant inland Deptford period sites.

Many Deptford culture sites along the Gulf coast may now be under water, or eroded by rising water levels, as the sea level along the coast of the Florida Panhandle has risen approximately 80 inches (2.0 m) in the last 2,000 years.(Milanich 1994, p. 115)


Early Deptford ceramics appear to have been developed in Georgia around 2,600 years ago out of the shellfish camps on the coast, then inland occupation during the spring and summer for deer hunting, and fall for nut gathering.[6]

From the Early through the Middle Woodland periods, the extensive, low-lying coastal environment of the South Atlantic coast, stretching from North Carolina to northern Florida, was used by numerous Deptford hunter-gatherer bands who lived seasonally within a variety of ecosystems and took advantage of seasonally available foods.

Along the Canaveral National Seashore and Cumberland Island National Seashore, for instance), as well as in the Carolinas, are believed to represent local lineage burial grounds rather than the resting place of an elite individual.

In northwestern Florida, the Early Woodland Deptford culture evolved in place to become the Hopewellian Interaction Sphere by about 1,900 years ago.


  1. ^ Milanich 1973: 52 (map)
    Milanich 1994: 113 (map)
  2. ^ National Park Service, Woodland cultures
  3. ^ Florida Heritage Arhaeology
  4. ^ Keith, Matt. "Letchworth Fieldschool: Introduction to Regional Prehistory" (Word Document). Tallahassee, Florida: Florida State University Department of Anthropology. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hawkshaw". University of West Florida Division of Anthropology and Archaeology. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  6. ^ National Park Service, Woodland period


  • Milanich, Jerald T. (1973). "The Southeastern Deptford Culture: a Preliminary Definition". Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties 3: 51–63. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  • Milanich, Jerald T. (1994). Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida (Paperback ed.). Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida.  

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