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20 March 2011
10,000-year-old spear found in Florida

Archaeologists hope a major find in a spring an hour and a half south of Tampa helps piece together how Florida's (USA) earliest inhabitants lived. Dive teams from the Florida Aquarium and the University of Miami exploring and excavating Little Salt Spring in southern Sarasota County carried to the surface a spear that dates back about 10,000 years, which led archaeologists believe they have found the remains of camp sites or prehistoric garbage dumps.
     What makes the underground site so unique is that the water entering the spring at about 250 feet deep has been underground for so long, it doesn't contain oxygen. There are no microbes or bacteria which normally destroy such relics. "We've already recovered a remarkable range of artifacts that are not to be found anywhere else, because of this unique water environment," said John Gifford, an underwater archaeologist at the University of Miami. He said scientists have never found such a spear in this good of condition. Wooden and charcoal items found nearby test dated to be about 9,300 years old.
     The piece will now go to Texas A&M University, which has one of the most prestigious departments for conservation of water-logged artifacts, Gifford said. "At some point this will definitely wind up at a museum," he said.

Edited from Tampa Bay Online (20 March 2011)

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