|25 October 2003
Ancient mound under a swimming pool
Removal of an old swimming pool at the Mound House on Estero Island in South West Florida, USA, soon might lead to a rare archaeological and educational opportunity. The resulting hole in the 2,000-year-old Indian mound then would be turned into a covered, climate-controlled walk-in archaeological exhibit where visitors will see the history of the moundís occupation in layers of shell. But first the state must approve $269,500 for a project proposed by the city of Fort Myers and Florida Gulf Coast Universityís Cultural Resources Management Program.
If all goes well, the 45-year-old pool will be pulled out in the autumn of 2004. "Take out the pool and you have a huge cavity in the mound" said Corbett Torrence, co-director of the Cultural Resources Management Program. "This is how to make the best out of a bad situation. The hole is a giant earthen history book. Each layer is a chapter in the 2,000-year history."
Once the pool at the Mound House is removed, archaeologists and volunteers will conduct an excavation to level the area under the pool, which was 8 feet deep at the drain and 4 feet deep in the shallow end. Much of archaeology is concerned with how artifacts relate to each other in a given activity area ó a space where a single activity took place. By figuring out how different activity areas were laid out in a single structure, archaeologists can make assumptions about a cultureís structure, said Theresa Schober, co-director of the Cultural Resources Management Program and principal author of the grant proposal.
Because many archaeological excavations are conducted in 1-meter squares, itís sometimes difficult to see a big picture. But the Mound House dig will cover the entire horizontal area of the pool ó 40 feet by 20 feet ó so archaeologists should get a rare glimpse of daily life. Archaeologists and visitors to the exhibit also should learn plenty from the vertical area ó the walls of the hole.
The mound, which is small compared to mounds at Mound Key and Pineland, is not really a mound; itís the southern-most end of a 3,300-foot long ridge that was bulldozed for development. "The ridge sites here and on Useppa were abandoned at the very time the mounds at Pineland and Mound Key were exploding upwards," Torrence said.
When the project is complete, possibly by the fall of 2006, visitors will walk into the mound from ground level and see the insides of an Indian shell mound measuring 40 feet long and 8 feet high.
Source: News-press.com (23 October 2003)
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