Florida’s Native American past is rich and deep. Mound cultures dot the coast and inner river plains all around the state. People and their civilizations have roamed this great state for thousands of years. And the over 2000 year old mound culture at Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Park is no different. Native Americans had inhabited this site for centuries, only to disappear forever with no reason, leaving behind artifacts and temple mounds along the shore of Lake Terra Ceia.
Designated the first state archeological site in Florida, the mounds and artifacts at Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Park were donated to the state by Karl and Madira Bickel in 1948. These two pioneers of Native American cultural preservation purchased the 10 acre preserve and donated it to the state so future scholars and scientists could study the mounds.
Over the years, archeologists have uncovered three civilizations that overlap each other on the mounds. The first period inhabitants primarily were hunters, fishers and gatherers, living in relative peace and harmony with nature. Many of the earliest kitchen mounds along the shore were started during this period, over 2000 years ago.
The second period, known as the Weedon Island period was a more settled period. Artistic potteries were the primary source of trade in the region and natives produced some of Florida’s most diverse and beautiful artwork and pottery ever seen.
The third and final period is known as the Safety Harbor period and it consists of larger villages and an agrarian based society that farmed crops more than it had an interest in art. It was also the period in which the first Spanish Conquistadors arrived and may have led to the decline and eventual abandonment of the entire civilization.
While not a lot of amenities are available at Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Park, picnicking and a self guided tour of the mounds are available. Several history kiosks are being planned for the parks near future. So bring a picnic for the family and enjoy the quiet and nature, just like its earliest inhabitants did so many years ago.
Getting to the park is easy. Just follow US 19 south past Palmetto, Florida. The entrance road is about a mile south of I-275 on Bayshore Drive, just off of US 19. Look for the signs and visit the Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Sites Website for more details.