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23 August 2010
Prehistoric artifacts discovered on a spring in Florida

Archaeologists with the University of Miami and The Florida Aquarium have found a series of artifacts in a silt-covered ledge located at the bottom of an isolated North Port spring (Florida, USA). The findings could be as old as 13,000 years old, when wandering tribes traversed Florida. Their travels included stopovers at what is now known as Little Salt Spring, 90 minutes south of Tampa.
     John Gifford, an underwater archaeologist with UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science along with aquarium divers are working together to gather the artifacts. "In the last ice age, between about 10,000 and 13,000 years ago, the water level was 90 feet lower then than it is today," Gifford said. "It's generally thought that along that early beach area, those early humans left their tools or whatever artifacts they found at that site."
     The site has been under excavation by scientists sporadically over the past three years, and only about 6 percent of the submerged ledge has been scoured. "Little Salt Spring," Gifford said, "is where we have at least a fighting chance at finding some traces of human activity say 9,000 or 10,000 years ago."
     The work is painstaking and somewhat dangerous but worth the effort, archaeologists say. The sinkhole's water chemistry and temperature have helped to create a one-of-a-kind, prehistoric submerged site where late Paleo-Indian and Archaic artifacts are unusually well preserved. "Our research has only begun to scratch the surface of what this site may reveal to us," Gifford says in a statement. "Wooden and other organic tools, as well as animals' soft tissues and bones, are preserved nearly intact in this unique environment."

Source: Tampa Bay Online (19 August 2010)

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