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Ode to the Tallahassee

 By  Kevin Dowdy 

The greatest opportunities in getting the Tallahassee/Santa Fe typologies correct, were missed by Bullen, Malwin, and Anderson in their 4 Identification Guides when all 3 writers did not distinguish between the Woodland and Dalton Forms. All writers failed to show one or the other of the types. This confusion caused many more problems than which name ended up on which type. Because of this failure, all the proceeding I.D. guides, such as Overstreet, "guessed" as to which time period this style of point belonged to, for years. Some said Late Paleo to Woodland, then reverted back to Dalton time periods, then back to Woodland and now back to Early Archaic, once again really missing the "real" Dalton time frame point type for our area. Even Oversreet #7 misses the real Dalton point for the Gulf Coastal region, again.

What Powell did do, for the first time ever, was to show the difference and separate the two types and (although name designation may be controversial) I feel this was more important than which name ended up on which style, as long as there was a clear difference for the benefit of collectors. The problem at this juncture, is that you have approximately 12 years of publishing, where the types are separated (which is great) and the names have stuck (so to speak) and there does not seem to be a real need to revert to old names for nostalgic reasons and further cloud the issue. I just don't understand why Bullen did not mention Safety Harbor and neither did Anderson in his two works, when Malwin had it published in the 60's, and both of these men had access to this information. Malwin missed the Dalton form as well. The reason Malwin, Bullen, and Anderson missed it, is that a true Dalton point south of Gainesville Florida is more rare than a fluted Clovis, they just don't occur with ANY regularity for these men to know and study them. Now Overstreet has the Tallahassee and Santa Fe as early types, but most of the examples shown definitely look Woodland to me. This is total confusion in trying to resurrect an old, obscure name for the sake of Bullen (but really for the sake a few collectors). Even Bullen leaves room for clarification when he uses words like "temporal assignment is tentative" and "probably". Would Bullen be more proud of keeping the "name" as he tentatively assigned, or would he be more proud that the distinction between the types was finally made correctly, for the benefit of accuracy in identification ?

I do appreciate and respect the Florida perspective but unfortunately the distinction was not properly made by any Florida publication to "clear the air" since the tentative assignment in 1975, and even earlier to the 60's in Malwin's work. Bullen's death prevented him from ever correcting or clarifying the issue but none behind him ever saw to it that there was closure on this issue, or for that matter, even mentioned the difference in the types with any name assignments. For over 35 years there has been a much greater confusion as to distinguishing between the types - UNTIL Powell came along. If Bullen were alive, he would most likely be proud of the distinction and he could probably even live with the Powell name assignments as his scientific mind would most likely lean toward the accuracy in identification and distinction over the choice of names for ones old home place (which is generally non-scientific but more sentimental). After all, which confusion is GREATER - 1)The lack of distinction between point types that are clearly 5000 to 6000 years apart? OR 2) Which name they are called ?

I will say this, the only section of the S.E. that seems to hold on to the Safety Harbor name, are the collectors from South Florida. No problem with that, but we should do what is best for all collectors to lessen confusion and to show the distinction. I think you will find that the majority of collectors have already adopted Powell's assignments and they are better off in being able to distinguish between the types. In my humble opinion, why muddy the waters for sentimental (not scientific) reasons ?

As far as re-writing Florida Archaeology, I have zero interest to do that but I also have zero interest in continuing confusion for the sake of "tradition". Look at the examples pictured by Bullen - for the most part these are Woodland examples and easily discernible. Bullen had very few real Dalton examples to study and form his opinion on, as they typically occur with much more frequency in the Chattahoochee Basin. Why would a point type be named for an area where it rarely occurs ? Refer back to Cambron and Hulse's works (which predate Bullen, Malwin, and many more) and notice the trend to name point types after the sites of occurrence and study. Would it be proper to name a Dalton point that occurs here (in the Chattahoochee basin) , a Santa Fe, when few if any examples have ever come from that part of Florida ? I can follow Powell's logic (not someone else's nostalgia) much easier when I think of his assignments in a logical manner. 1) The examples Bullen showed definitely appear to be Woodland. The name assignments were already there and matched the examples Bullen had used, the confusion was only on the time frame assignment. 2) Chattahoochee definitely matches up with the location of occurrence. 3) Since Bullen had chosen two different names for basically the same type, (according to you, Bullen, Anderson and others) one is serrated and one is not, Powell did a better job of putting the correct name with the pictured types in Bullens book. One only needs to realize the time assignment in Bullens book is where the confusion begins.

How can 50+ years of Florida Archaeology be re-written, when it was not accurate to begin with in time assignments of these points ?

One of the reasons John Sowell and I did a point Identification Guide was because of all the mistakes and wrong (or very poor) examples shown of Gulf Coastal point types in the national price guide. After each publication, we always see room for improvement, and we have since Volume 2. It will improve again for Volume 3. I think we have already set the standard for I.D. guides for the Deep South and we plan on taking it to the next level on the next edition. It will take a lot more "proof" than what I have been shown and read, to convince me that Powell's assignments have done ANY injustice to the proper identification and distinction of the Dalton and Woodland (Gulf Formational) types. Why would anyone keep the Santa Fe and Tallahassee name for a Dalton type, when it is clear that Bullen was plainly showing and discussing a woodland form ? A simple correction to the time assignment (that Bullen stated was tentative and temporal) would clear this up completely.

Powell did no dis-service to Bullen, he kept the right name with the right form, he only changed the time assignment. It would have been more drastic and disrespectful to Bullen's work to put the Tallahassee and Santa Fe name on types that are distinctly different (which is what some would like to do) and put the examples Bullen shows in his book under a name called Safety Harbor, a name that he didn't even recognize at the time. Maybe a side by side comparison of Powell's pages and Bullen's pages will show that the same types are illustrated in each book and the name assignments are intact. The only difference is the "temporal and tentative" time assignment by Bullen.

I would add that John Powell has not been here to defend himself or his actions but many folks don't know that Powell was a trained and accomplished Archaeologist and was very well educated. Powell also spent years and countless hours studying material, site data, interviewing collectors, and working with some of the most respected Archaeologists in the country, including Dr. Barbara Purdy and Dr.Albert Goodyear. Both Dr.Purdy and Dr.Goodyear are accomplished, very knowledgeable, and highly respected in Florida Archaeology circles, both having spent years in Florida in their professions. From personal conversations, Dr. Goodyear endorses the assignments made by Powell. I have not spoken with Dr.Purdy yet for her viewpoint. Dr.Goodyear is also known for being a real friend of the private collecting community and is the driving force behind the Isolated Finds Program in Florida and South Carolina.

No one from Florida wants to admit that Bullen may have indeed been talking about Woodland types but categorizing them as Dalton, due to the similarities in outline. Truth is a true Dalton is seldom seen in Malwins study area or south of the Suwannee river. Look at the center of distribution for the true Dalton time period point in the Deep South, it ain't no where close to where Malwin and Bullen take most of their study from. Could the reason be that Bullen put Woodland type examples in his book, was because they were Woodland and not the Dalton forms ?

Here's food for thought for the readers. If the Safety Harbor name/type was as common and established (since the 60's) as some would have us believe, what are the odds that Bullen missed it in his two books(1968 and 1975), Anderson missed it in his two books (1984 and 1987), and Barbara Purdy missed it in her well respected book (1981) ???? Where are the writings by any of these folks, and Malwin, that distinguish the Woodland from the Dalton type? Some would say that the lack of computers, scanners, cutting pics out with scissors, time constraints to get a book out, valid reasons to repeatedly leave a valid point type out. What are the odds of that happening over and over to such a well known type ?

Puckett didn't recognize the Safety Harbor type in his 1993 Coldwater guide, after he and Anderson co-published the 1984 Field Guide to Point Types of the State of Florida.

Overstreet finally put the Safety Harbor type in Vol#7 (2001) after receiving information that clouded up not only this issue, but others such as Savannah River/Hamilton, Ocala, and several others.

I will say that every publishing since 1990 did accept Powell's clarification as better than anything to date, because he finally distinguished between the Dalton and Woodland forms. The most debatable issue about what Powell did would be the issue of the point on the cover of his book versus the line drawings on the Tallahassee pages. A mistake, no doubt, but no worse than that of Bullen, and at least someone finally separated out the two types. My opinion is that the drawings that Bullen has on his Tallahassee and Santa Fe pages are more representative of the Woodland types than Dalton. The narrow blade on the Tallahassee page in Bullens book is more representative of the Woodland form, than the almost always wider, Dalton form.

Some can say that authors since 1990 jumped on the "Powell bandwagon" but not without reason. The long awaited and very much needed distinction was first made in his publication, missed by all the books before him. To the vast majority, it made it easier to distinguish the types, including almost every author since then. The recent well researched books "Early Georgia" and "The Anthropology of Florida Points and Blades" also use the Powell assignment, as it is the first publication that makes the Dalton/Woodland distinction.

Time and theories change, some stick, some don't. This is not an issue just about Santa Fe/Tallahassee. For example, Bullens 1968 guide discusses 39 point types. His 1975 guide discusses 50 types. Andersons 1984 book discusses 48 types. Check out the long established Clovis type and the examples shown in Bullen's books, I bet Anderson and others today would say that some of those examples are not Clovis, but Suwannees. Just a point to prove that information and knowledge changes over time. Some folks accept it, others never will.

The straight basal form that Bullen calls Florida Copena, is most likely what some refer to as "Safety Harbor". That straight base form is NOT what we call the (Woodland form) Tallahassee and Santa Fe. Most likely Florida Copenas were the larger, and possibly earlier, form of the Pinellas. Why isn't the name Florida Copena used instead of Safety Harbor, for these late forms, by the same Florida contingency, that wants to call the Dalton form Tallahassee/Santa Fe ?

I do find it odd that Bullen only shows ONE example on his Tallahassee page, and the same lonely example is shown in both his 1967 and 1975 works. This "flaw" alone, left a lot of "room" for interpretation. How can anything definitive be made from the showing of only one example ?

It's definitely a learning process, and I have researched the heck out of it. I can see both sides, but if we are going to refer to Bullens work as the "Bible", then how can we drop some things like Florida Copena and substitute the name Safety Harbor, and not do the same "injustice" that some say Powell did

Safety Harbor was never named or noted whatsoever in Andersons 2 Deep South point guides published in the 80's. Bullen also never recognized the Safety Harbor type in his most respected Florida I.D. guide but he did clearly show the woodland examples in his 1975 book under the name Tallahassee, with a  "temporal and tentative" Dalton time placement. Everything about  Bullens description and the examples he had in his book is/was accurate in regards to the Tallahassee type, except the time placement which since then has been documented as being a Woodland type. His own vague description of time placement as being "temporal" and "tentative" left room for clarification, and it has been done scientifically since then.

The small faction of about 3-5 collectors that are working so hard to see the name put back on the Dalton type, are clearly ignoring the examples that Bullen used, as they are clearly Woodland examples, all to see the "Safety Harbor" name used. This happens to be the hometown in Florida where one of the proponents grew up, and he loves to name point types. The Safety Harbor name was once used by Malwin in a small regional publication in the late 60's, but was not used by ANY other author or recognized in ANY other publication (including  Anderson) until the last Overstreet, and this was all done by info submitted by one individual to Bob Overstreet, on a campaign.

All respected point and I.D. guides since 1989, have had the Tallahassee and Santa Fe types assigned to Woodland (which matches the examples shown in Bullens book but not his temporal and tentative time assignment) and the Daltons have been called Chattahoochee Daltons. Anderson did
not even make the distinction between the Woodland and Dalton type in either of his two books in the 1980's and did not recognize any type called Safety Harbor either. Powell in 1989, cleared up this confusion by first, getting the time assignment correct on the examples that Bullen had pictured, and then getting the name corrected on the Dalton type, since it had not been (based on the example in Bullens book) clarified and shown with true Dalton examples, until then. 99% of the collectors in the Deep  South agree and accept Powell's work as accurate.

There may indeed be a type to be called Safety Harbor, but the bases are not deeply incurvated and they don't have elongated flaring ears. Check out the examples submitted to Overstreet #7, and you will see that they are really an almost straight based larger version of the Pinellas type, which is a lot later point than the Tallahassee or Santa Fe. Most likely an early Mississippian type based on site info and manufacturing characteristics.

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