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11 September 1999
Miami circle: debate over its origin

A prominent Florida archaeologist is resurrecting an alternate theory to explain the origin of the Miami Circle. Maybe, he says, it's not a historically valuable stone carving. Maybe it was created by runoff from a modern septic tank.
      Writing in the current issue of Archaeology Magazine, archaeologist Jerald Milanich explored a possibility raised by several observers after the 38-foot-wide Circle was discovered last year in downtown Miami.
      He noted that a concrete septic tank, connected to a building erected in 1950, was found inside the Circle's southern arc. The Circle was unearthed last year on a 2.2-acre site along the Miami River next to Brickell Avenue.
      Perhaps the Circle was formed in modern times by chemical runoff from that septic tank or was intentionally carved to enhance septic tank drainage, said Milanich, curator of archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
      I intend to remain skeptical until sufficient evidence is collected to prove that the Miami Circle was built by Native Americans one or two thousand years ago and is not a 20th Century artifact, Milanich wrote near the end of the four-page article.
      But many archaeologists and geologists said the evidence already exists and is being ignored by Milanich. They said the Circle almost certainly was created by the now-extinct Tequesta tribe.
      We've already refuted this business about the septic tank and now we have to do it again, on a national level, said archaeologist Robert Carr, the circle's project director and recently retired director of the Miami Dade Historic Preservation Division. What he ignores are the facts he's been presented with. Among Carr's key points, worth mentioning is the fact that the holes that comprise the Circle are rectangular in shape and thus could not have been formed by natural processes. In addition, markings inside the holes have been associated with tools used by the Tequesta. Besides, ancient artifacts and deposits were discovered inside the holes, so the holes must pre-date the ancient material found within.

Source: Miami Herald (3 September 99)

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