Sinkhole holds 12,000-yr-old clues to how early Americans livedFebruary 19th, 2009 - 2:58 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Feb 19 (ANI): Divers exploring a southern Florida sinkhole have uncovered clues going back to 12,000 years as to what life was like for some of Americas first residents.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the sinkhole, which lies in Little Salt Spring, 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Sarasota, is being explored by a team of underwater archaeologists led by University of Miami professor John Gifford.
Archaeologists have been recovering primitive relics from the spring since 1977, when divers found the remains of a large, now extinct tortoise and a sharpened stake that may have been used by a hungry hunter to kill the animal 12,000 years ago.
In 1986, Gifford and his colleagues recovered a skull with brain tissue from what he thinks was an ancient burial in shallow water near the spring.
He continues to work with DNA samples to determine the date of the find.
Gifford and other archaeologists found more from the tortoise this past July, along with the slaughtered remains of a giant ground sloth.
The discovery of the sloths bones could indicate that Little Salt Spring was a sort of ancient butcher shop where hunters often killed and their prey and prepared meat when this was dry land.
This is a warehouse of environmental, natural, historical, and archaeological remains in a very, very well preserved environment, said Roger Smith, Floridas state underwater archaeologist.
Thats why its a world-class site. I would call it a portal back into time, he added.
When Little Salt Spring was formed during the last Ice Age, sea level was lower and what is now the Florida peninsula was much wider. Sources of freshwater were scarce.
Ancient Native Americans came to the sinkhole to drink the water and perhaps find a meal.
Florida was much drier than it is today, Gifford said. Essentially, Little Salt Spring was an oasis, he added.
Gifford and his divers worked last summer on a ledge about 90 feet (27 meters) below the surface where the stake and tortoise remains were found.
Giffords divers will return to lower depths of Little Salt Spring soon, but will wait until their recent finds have been analyzed.
They hope to eventually uncover evidence of campfires on the ledge.
There may be lots of stuffbasketry, woven fabrics, wooden implementsthat you wouldnt otherwise find in an archaeological context, said Bruce Smith, curator of North American Archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Finding fragile wooden artifacts would open a new window of understanding how early Native Americans lived, Smith added. (ANI)
- Previously unknown Himalayan cave culture discovered - Mar 01, 2011
- Wreckage of 16th century ship discovered off Brazil - Mar 01, 2012
- Bone discovery could be earliest archaeological evidence for pet tortoises - Jul 13, 2010
- Remains of largest Stone Age building discovered in NW China - Jan 26, 2011
- 30,000 antiques to be salvaged from sunken Chinese ship - Aug 19, 2012
- 4,000-year-old tomb found in Egypt - May 29, 2012
- Ten millennia old hunting weapon discovered in melting ice patch - Jun 30, 2010
- Archeologists Unearth Palaeolithic Funeral Feast In Israel - Sep 02, 2010
- Underwater exploration near Florida's west coast seeks evidence of early Americans - Jul 10, 2009
- Archaelogists discover Britain's first Stone Age home - Aug 11, 2010
- Research team all set to explore sacred Maya pools of Belize - Sep 14, 2009
- Archaeologists to reveal secrets of world's oldest submerged town in Greece - May 13, 2009
- Traces of ancient civilisation found in Chinese desert - Oct 18, 2011
- Did 14th century China use fridge? - Jun 29, 2011
- 1500yr-old de-fleshed corpses point to ancient Himalayan death ritual - Mar 07, 2011
Tags: ancient burial, brain tissue, butcher shop, dna samples, florida peninsula, florida sinkhole, ground sloth, hungry hunter, john gifford, last ice age, little salt spring, national geographic news, professor john, relics, roger smith, shallow water, southern florida, tortoise, underwater archaeologists, university of miami