Archaeology experts and students sift through samples taken during a two-day excavation at Phillippi Estate Park in January.
SARASOTA COUNTY – Archaeology will again be in the spotlight at Phillippi Estate Park when it hosts an archaeological “show and tell” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 16.
The Florida Public Archaeology Network will present artifacts from the Prodie Shell Midden, the remains of an encampment along the Phillippi Creek by people from the Manasota Period (500 B.C. to 800 A.D.) on the site of what is now a 60-acre county park. Visitors will have an opportunity to see and learn about conch hammers, pottery shards, fishing net weights and other tools left behind by the Manasota culture.
“The Prodie Shell Midden is an example of the everyday life of the people that once called this wonderful place their home,” said Dr. Jeff Moates of the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the University of South Florida Department of Archaeology. “It’s great to see it preserved and now commemorated and celebrated by the community. Knowing these places exist can really enrich a community and provide a wonderful sense of place.”
The event is free and open to anyone interested in archaeology, but it’s especially geared toward kids and is being held during Sarasota County Schools spring break. It coincides with the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, held at the park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday from October to April.
Sarasota County hosted a two-day archaeological excavation in January at Phillippi Estate Park in conjunction with the Florida Public Archaeology Network and New College that drew more than 500 spectators and participants.
“It’s exciting to see so many people come out and experience firsthand the rich history that is found right here in our county park,” said Priscilla Brown, Phillippi Estate Park manager.
The Friends of Sarasota County Parks has provided a $5,000 grant for interpretive heritage signage that will be placed around the Prodie Shell Midden and feature pictures of Manasota Indians and drawings of artifacts recovered from the excavation in January. Those educational panels are planned to be on display when Phillippi Estate Park hosts a centennial commemoration of the Edson Keith Mansion in November.
The 100th anniversary celebration will also include the opening of the renovated Edson Keith Farmhouse, which will serve as an interpretive center showcasing the Manasota artifacts as well as artifacts from the Edson Keith period that show how the common man lived 100 years ago.
Phillippi Estate Park is located at 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.