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Archaeo News 

18 November 1999
Miami Circle is nearly 2,000 year old

Archaeologists said that carbon dating tests show that a stone circle discovered at the mouth of the Miami River (Florida, U.S.A.) is a nearly 2,000-year-old trading post.
      The circle, actually an oval about 12.2 to 15.2 metres (40 to 50 feet) across, consists of a number of holes dug into limestone. The holes may have been used to secure wooden poles for dwellings, or racks for drying fish. Scientists dated five items from the site, including bits of charcoal and bone collagen collected from the circle's holes and from on top of the bedrock. Four of the five items dated to about AD 125. The fifth item, a shark vertebrae, dated to the Spanish period in the mid-1600s.
      "We know from the depth of the deposits that occupation of this site may have begun as early as 500 BCE and certainly right up until the period of Spanish contact," archeologist Bob Carr said. "This was a continuously occupied site." Experts intend to use ground-penetrating radar within the next few weeks in an attempt to find other circle-like features beneath the weeds and dirt.
      "The circle would certainly appear to be ancient, and it also seems to be the product of Native American hands," said archeologist Ryan Wheeler of the state Bureau of Archeological Research. John Ricisak, an archaeologist with the Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Division, said members of Florida's ancient Glades culture probably used the site as a seasonal trading post. Archeologists also said they had found more holes similar to those that form the Circle, a suspected Indian relic about 2,000 years old. "It tends to suggest there may be other features similar to the Miami Circle that are out here," Florida archeologist Ryan Wheeler said.
      The ultimate preservation of the circle remains uncertain; a developer had planned to build a $126 million apartment complex at the downtown site, but a judge ruled in June that the county can take the land. Florida's government has pledged $15 million toward its purchase but Miami-Dade County must raise the remaining $11.7 million. It needs to collect about $2 million in donations within the next four weeks to meet a deadline for payment of the initial $20 million to the developer.

Sources: ABCE News, Associated Press (November 2 1999)

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