Belle Glade culture

Belle Glade culture

The Belle Glade culture is an Archaeological culture that was located in the area surrounding Lake Okeechobee in Florida, USA and (less certainly) in the Kissimmee River valley for the period from 1000 BCE to about 1700. The cultural area is defined on the basis of mounds, earthworks and pottery. the area has poor, sandy soils, low elevation with low relief, and many bodies of water and wetlands. The area consists of pine and palmetto flatlands, wet prairies, hammocks of live oak and cabbage palm and cypress swamps.

Humans apparently first entered the Lake Okeechobee basin and Kissimmee River valley late in the Archaic period. The Belle Glade culture is defined as beginning about 1000 BCE. The older Willey/Bullen chronology divided the Belle Glade culture into three periods; Transitional (1000 BCE - 500 BCE), Belle Glade I (500 BCE - 1000 CE) and Belle Glade II (1000 - 1700). The more recent Sears chronology divides the Belle Glade culture into four periods; I (1000 BCE - 200 CE), II (200 - c.700), III (c.700 - c.1300) and IV (c.1300 - 1700). During the period of European contact, the Mayaimi tribe lived in the Belle Glade culture area.

Most of the pottery found at Belle Glade culture sites is undecorated (Belle Glade Plain and Glades Plain styles). Wood, bone, shell and shark tooth artifacts have been found at a few Belle Glade sites, but are too few to be used in defining the culture.

Earthworks are diagnostic of the Belle Glade culture. Circular ditches appeared early in the Belle Glade culture, by 500 BCE. Habitation mounds and burials in mounds also date to the earliest period. Mounds were also built in Sears' periods II and IV, with mound burials again in period IV. In period IV complexes of mounds and linear embankments were common. Habitation mounds served as dry refuges from flooding during the wet season. Middens are found in oak hammocks near open water.

The people of the Belle Glade culture subsisted on hunting and gathering. Animals in the diet included deer, turtle, snake, fish and fresh water molluscs. While maize may have been cultivated, it was no more than a minor component of the diet.


*Milanich, Jerald T. 1995. "Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe". Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1360-7
*State of Florida Office of Cultural and Historical Programs. "Chapter 11. Lake Okeechobee Basin/Kissimmee River, 3000 B.P.-Contact". "Historic Contexts". Version of 9-27-93. Downloaded from [] on March 27 2006

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