Our Mission

The Gulf Archaeology Research Institute (GARI) is a 501(C)(3) scientific research group based in Crystal River, Florida. Founded in 1995 we bring over 25 years of experience of working to protect Florida’s vanishing natural and cultural resources. Our organization has three divisions: Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Natural Sciences. We are professionally staffed by Research Associates who all hold advanced graduate degrees in a variety of fields from Anthropology/Archaeology to Meteorology.

What our extensive experiences have shown is that Florida is in a state of emergency when it comes to protecting its historical resources. We are losing our shared history at an alarming rate due to sea level rise, construction and development, and agricultural activities. We have been at the forefront of championing for saving these sites and have an impressive resume of providing exceptional services to communities so they can document and protect their historical sites. Read more about our amazing staff under the About Us page and see a selection of the projects we have completed under the Reports page. Want to help us save history?? Visit our Donation page – we have a number of ways to help including some that don’t cost anything to you!

Dr. Michelle Sivilich

I received my Ph.D. from the University of South Florida where I studied the role standardized education officers received at the Military Academy at West Point, NY played on the outcome of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). This is the first time large numbers of officers who were West Point trained were put in the field during combat. Since Florida was unlike any environment they had trained for, this unknown environment hampered their ability to conduct successful operations. In addition to my research with the Seminole Wars, I have over 15 years experience in a variety of archaeological settings ranging from 17th century Maryland’s first Capital of St. Mary’s City, to Revolutionary War sites throughout the Northeast United States, to Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello. I also received my M.S. from Indiana State University studying molecular archaeology and used a novel approach to genetic fingerprinting to assess levels of relatedness within cemeteries which relates to the changing cultural practices regarding the cemetery layout in the mid-1800s.

Gary Ellis, Director Emeritus

I have enjoyed 40 years of professional life in archaeology after earning my undergraduate degree in anthropology from Southern Illinois University (1975) and a graduate degree from the University of South Florida (1977). I had the honor of developing the Historic Preservation and Archaeology Division for the State of Indiana and serving as its first State Archaeologist (1977-1991). During this period I assisted the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University as a faculty member teaching and promoting program development and served as the archaeologist for the Indiana State Museum. My career research interests have focused on the integration of physical and natural sciences with anthropological archaeology to understand humankind’s place within natural systems and my field experiences cover the gamut of terrestrial and underwater archaeology, including the recognition and recovery of archaeological context from highly damaged sites. Over the past 10 years I have contributed to the archaeological study of the Seminole Wars (1817-1854) and working with the National Park Service-American Battlefield Program and the State of Florida investigated more than seven period forts and six major battlefields. Florida is my home state and I returned in 1991 to begin development of the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute (1995) which is now in its 20th year of service. I am pleased that our diversity of professional staff and service offerings have allowed growth in the profession and fostered historic preservation, archaeological and environmental research to assist Florida communities and agencies in need. Our goal of Connecting the Past To Our Future drives the institute and staff to provide the best services possible to facilitate cultural and natural resource protection and management.

Kenneth Nash, Director of Physical Sciences and Climatology

I’ve been associated with Gulf Archaeology Research Institute since 1997 and have participated in many of our projects over the years. I received a B.S. in Physics from Georgia Tech and an M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from Creighton University. My first career was in the US Air Force from 1971-1995 as a meteorologist. I had the good fortune to spend a good part of my career in the tropics and subtropics predicting weather in those regions. In addition, I spent a good deal of time predicting the effects of space weather on Department of Defense satellite operations. Here at Gulf Archaeology, my horizons have been broadened considerably to deal with historic weather impacts and, in recent times, to grapple with the nuances of sea-level rise (and falls) and their signatures on archaeological sites. As the director of physical sciences and climatology, I also try to keep abreast of the changes in water levels and water issues in and around west Central Florida landscapes. Our work at Homosassa Springs State Park, the Rainbow River, and all along the coastal zone is exciting and relevant. I was an adjunct instructor at the College of Central Florida for 18 years teaching meteorology, environmental science and earth science classes.

Jonathan Dean, Research Associate

I have been an archaeologist specializing in Southeastern US prehistory for over 20 years. I received a M.A. in anthropology at Florida Atlantic University in 2002, studying prehistoric shell midden sites at Gumbo Limbo in Boca Raton. I was formerly a public archaeology Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Florida (2003-2010), where I conducted large scale cultural reconnaissance surveys of the Fakahatchee Swamp strand in Collier County, the Weedon Island Preserve in Pinellas County, and the Green Swamp area in west-central Florida. I have worked with the GARI as an archaeologist for the past 15 years, where I assist the team in conducting prehistoric and historic archaeology projects, biological inventorying, soil/sediment analyses, pen/ink and digital drafting, as well as report writing. Research interests include:
— Prehistoric settlement patterning and trail systems across wet lowlands in west-central Florida
— N- and C-transformations of shell middens in the drowning Gulf of Mexico
— Prehistoric Formative-period shell tool technology
— The role of structural constraints inherited from the prehistoric landscape on both Seminole and US Army settlement patterning and movement during the Seminole Wars.
— Soil and sedimentary signatures of Seminole War-era fort sites

Jill Principe, Research Associate

I have been with GARI since 2006, specializing primarily in historical archaeology, historical research, and conservation. I hold a B.A. in History with a minor in Anthropology from Monmouth University, and an M.A. in Anthropology with a concentration in Historic Archaeology from The College of William & Mary. During my academic and professional careers, I have worked as both field and laboratory technician on a range of historic archaeological sites, from colonial taverns in New Jersey, to 20th century plantations in Florida. I also have a background in artifact conservation and collections management, and have had the opportunity to intern with both the Colonial Williamsburg Archaeology Lab and the National Park Service in these areas. My research interests include: social history, and how it can be reflected in material culture, particularly in the cases of historically underrepresented groups (i.e., women and other minorities, individuals of lower economic status, slaves, and children); plantation archaeology; urban archaeology; collections management; and museum studies.

Sean P. Norman, Research Associate

I specialize in the geoarchaeology of coupled human-natural ecosystems in coastal environments. I received my M.A. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida (USF) where I examined the relationship between landscape modification (midden deposition and mound construction) and changing sea level and climatic conditions. This was accomplished through the use of soil coring and landscape modeling using geographic information systems (GIS) software. This lead to my interest in refining regional sea level reconstructions. I also possess a graduate certificate in GIS from USF and a B.A. in History from Columbus State University with a background in archival curation and genealogical research.

Dr. Jon C. Endonino, Research Associate

I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida and have been conducting archaeological research in Florida and throughout the southeastern U.S. for over twenty five years in cultural resource management and academic settings. My primary research interests are the social and ecological contexts associated with the origins and abrupt disappearance of Late Archaic mortuary mounds within the Middle St. Johns River Valley and northeast Atlantic coast of Florida. Source identification and analysis of stone artifacts and applying an organizational approach to stone tool technology is my other main research interest and area of expertise. In addition, I also have a strong interest in using replicative experiments to answer archaeological questions. Currently I am engaged in long-term research at the Tomoka Mounds and Midden Complex (8VO81) in northeast Volusia County, Florida in order to understand what social and ecological conditions attended the construction of late Mount Taylor mortuary mounds from 4900-4700 cal. B.P. and what role changing ecologies related to sea-level rise played in the initiation and abandonment of mortuary mound construction.

Dan Sivilich, Research Associate

I received a B.S. Chemical Engineering and have numerous post-graduate courses in Computer Science from New Jersey Institute of Technology. I am one of the founders of the concept of electronic battlefield archaeology and developed many new methods, both in field techniques
and data analysis. 30+ years field experience in prehistoric and historic archaeology. I have
conducted numerous Phase I and II surveys. I am best known for developing the formula for
determining the diameter of a non-spherical musket ball which was published in the Journal for
Historic Archaeology and in my book Musket Ball and Small Shot Identification: A Guide. I have
conducted electronic surveys of numerous battlefield sites in the US ranging from the 1637
Pequot War in Mystic, CT up to the US Civil War. My specialty is the American Revolutionary
War having surveyed many battlefields and a newly discovered site in Valley Forge, PA. I have
also worked on the 1813 Battle of Nations in Leipzig, Germany and the 1649 Battle of Zboriv in
Ukraine. I currently work as a volunteer at Fort King in the Archaeological Resource Center. I
am a longtime member of Conflict Archaeology International Research Network (CAIRN).