|24 March 2005
Traces of ancient settlement uncovered in Florida
A dig in the Pine Island Conservation Area of Florida, USA, has shown that humans were active there up to 5000 years ago.
When septic tanks and parking were to be built at Merritt Island in 2003, Brevard County Historical Commission asked archaeologist Thomas Penders to survey the area first. Out of 198 small test pits, 194 yielded archaeologically significant items, including pottery shards dated to 3,000 years old, a 5,000-year-old fossilized coral spear point and ancient burnt turtle shells.
“This is an extremely important site. We have 5,000 years of history. It has the potential for being one of the most important sites in Brevard County. I never expected this in a million years when I came out here,” said Mr Penders.
The dig is being continued every weekend by volunteers from the Indian River Anthropological Society. Most of the pottery found at the site so far is from a period known as Malabar 1, dating from 500 BCE to 750 CE, and may have belonged to the ancestors of the Ais Indians, who lived in the area when the Spanish explored Florida in the 1500s.
The earliest human inhabitants of Florida lived about 13,500 years ago, and were probably small groups of nomadic people who may have arrived to hunt grazing animals.
Last year, county workers found Ice Age fossilised bones close to Penders' original dig, including the toe bone of a 5-foot long armadillo, shells of giant land tortoise, leg and teeth bones of mammoth, mastodon, horses, tapirs, peccaries and deer and fossilised camel bones. The fossils were dated by the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville to between 10,000 to 100,000 years old.
Source: Florida Today (22 March 2005)
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