Experts Hunt for Prehistoric Culture Under Everglades Boardwalk

Search follows on 1968 discovery
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2014 10:33 AM CDT
Experts Hunt for Prehistoric Culture Under Everglades Boardwalk
In this Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 photo, tourists take photos along the boardwalk of the Anhinga Trail.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Researchers are searching for an ancient culture in Everglades National Park, following up on work done decades ago. In 1968, after a pond in the park was dredged, a park ranger spotted a vast collection of what may have been tools and weapons, as well as remnants of marine life that doesn't live in the fresh water of the pond. Though the items were collected, the site was never excavated and the discoveries "didn’t get recorded as we would today," says archaeologist Margo Schwadron. So now, before the park replaces a section of boardwalk on Anhinga Trail, archaeologists are seeing what else they can find. To do so, they put an aluminum tube 10 feet underground, using it to suck up water and mud at 16-foot intervals along an 0.8-mile section of trail, CBS Miami reports. They then pour the material over a screen and pick through it by hand, the AP reports.

They started on Friday, and hadn't found much of clear significance as of Monday. The project is a challenge: "We basically just have the ranger’s old field notes that talk about this discovery and we don't know where the site was, other than what he drew on some sketch maps," Schwadron notes, as WFSU reported last week. But if they find something, it could help researchers understand how people lived in the Everglades, because "there's no written record," Schwadron says. And, as the park's chief of cultural resources points out, the site is "unique in the sense that it's a submerged site. We don't have very many of those in Florida and in this area at all. That is why it's special." (In other National Park archaeological finds, researchers discovered a pair of ancient villages in Arizona.)

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