Turtle Mound
Turtle Mound is a historic site located 9 miles (14.5 km) south of New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach is a city in Volusia County, Florida, United States. The population was 20,048 according to the 2000 census. As of 2007, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 23,161.-History:...

, Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, on State Road A1A
Florida State Road A1A
State Road A1A is a Florida State Road that runs mostly along the Atlantic Ocean, with sections from Key West at the southern tip of Florida, to Callahan, just south of Georgia. It is the main road through most oceanfront towns. SR A1A is designated the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Highway, a...

. On September 29, 1970, it was added to the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

. It is the largest shell midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

 on the mainland United States, with an approximate height of 50 feet (15.2 m). Turtle Mound was estimated to be 75 feet (22.9 m) high before it was reduced by shellrock mining in the 19th and 20th centuries. This mound contains 33,000-cubic yards of oyster shells that covers 2 acres (8,093.7 m²). The turtle-shaped mound contains oysters and refuse from the prehistoric Timucua
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the...

n people. Archaeologists believe that these people may have used this site as a high-ground refuge during hurricanes. With bow and arrow, spears and snares, they caught a variety of small mammals and reptiles.It was constructed between 800 and 1400 AD
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

. Early Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 explorers and subsequent mariners utilized the large mound as a landmark
This is a list of landmarks around the world.Landmarks may be split into two categories - natural phenomena and man-made features, like buildings, bridges, statues, public squares and so forth...

. Today, the site is owned and managed by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 as part of Canaveral National Seashore
Canaveral National Seashore
The Canaveral National Seashore is a National Seashore located between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, Florida, in Volusia County and Brevard County, United States. The park, located on a barrier island, is home to more than 1,000 plant species and 310 bird species. CANA occupies 58,000 acres ...


Visible seven miles out at sea, early sailors used Turtle Mound as a navigational device. The Timucuan experienced greater competitive forces for finite resources such as arable land resulting in increased open conflict. This is apparent in some of the material found in the Turtle Mound location where it occupied an important location along the coast.


The shell mound is a deposit of refuse; the majority of the mound is oyster shells, although no extensive excavations have occurred. The mound contains several species of tropical plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s. Surveys have confirmed the presence of Amyris elemifera
Amyris elemifera
Amyris elemifera, commonly known as Sea Torchwood, is a coastal evergreen shrub or small tree. It is found in central and southern Florida in the United States, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, and the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. The resinous wood has been...

, Heliotropium angiospermum, Plumbago scandens, Harrisia fragrans
Harrisia fragrans
Harrisia fragrans is a rare species of cactus known by the common names fragrant prickly apple and Caribbean applecactus. It is endemic to Florida, where it is known mainly from St. Lucie County. The plant's habitat has been almost completely consumed by development, leading to its rarity...

, Sideroxylon foetidissimum
Sideroxylon foetidissimum
Sideroxylon foetidissimum, commonly known as False Mastic, is a species of flowering plant in the chicle family, Sapotaceae. It is native to Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, and northern Central America.-External links:...

, Schoepfia chrysophylloides,
and other species. The site represents the northernmost distribution for several species. The heat retention of shells and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean maintains warmer temperatures than surrounding areas. In 1605, the Spanish explorer Alvaro Mexia
Alvaro Mexia
Alvaro Mexia was a 17th century Spanish explorer and cartographer of the east coast of Florida. Mexia was stationed in St Augustine and was given a diplomatic mission to the native populations living south of St. Augustine and in the Cape Canaveral area...

visited the site and reported natives launching their dugout canoes at the mound's base. Over many years of this practice, the mound began to take the form of a turtle, giving the feature its name.

External links

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