Remote sensing and machine learning reveal Archaic shell rings | Penn State University
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Deep in the dense coastal forests and marshes of the American Southeast lie shell rings and shell mounds left by Indigenous people 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. Now an international team of researchers, using deep machine learning to assess remote sensing data, has located previously undiscovered shell rings. The researchers hope this will lead to a better understanding of how people lived in that area and a way to identify other, undiscovered shell rings.
“The rings themselves are a treasure trove for archaeologists,” said Dylan S. Davis, doctoral candidate in anthropology at Penn State. “Excavations done at some shell rings have uncovered some of the best preservation of animal bones, teeth and other artifacts.”
Shell rings are thought to be centers of exchange of goods, according to Davis. They can provide a lot of information on social constructs, politics and foraging. They might show what resources were exploited and whether they were sustainably or not sustainably used.
“The shell rings have produced copper that came from the Great Lakes region to the Southeast,” said Davis. “Archaeologists also find ceramics, decorative items and lithics that may have come from up to 100 miles away.”