Tag Archives: Underwater Archaeology

Budget Ends Excavations at Florida’s Prehistoric Little Salt Spring

I would be remiss if I let this story of my college mentor’s, John Gifford, Ph.D., prehistoric excavation closing down due to a shrinking budget. Little Salt Spring in Sarasota County, Florida is an important Paleo-Indian site and on the National Register of Historic Places. Archaeological Investigations over the last 21 years have yielded key information to understanding the peoples who lived in this region thousands of years before Columbus.

Little Salt Spring, courtesy of Wikimedia

Little Salt Spring, courtesy of Wikimedia

The 111 acre sink hole in Central Florida drew Floridians as early as 12,000 years ago. They used the site as a fresh water source but also as a trap for larger game, drowning them in the deep water and then removing the carcass to clean and eat. The material found at the site has been important and only just touched the surface.

Sadly, recently budget evaluations have determined the sites closing and, as such, Dr. Gifford will be retiring his archaeological career at the University of Miami’s Rosenthal School of Marine and Atmosphere Science.

“…because of this, I’m retiring after this semester. The reason I was hired in 1983 was to work at Little Salt Spring. My job was to do underwater research in Little Salt Spring.” — John Gifford, Ph.D.

The closing of the site has sent ripples throughout the archaeological community.

“It’s a rare site. It is one of Florida’s most puzzling and enigmatic archaeological sites. It is significant, based on what has been found there; the rich archaeological evidence of the earliest period of human occupation in Florida. It’s a time period of which we know very little.” Brent Wiseman, Ph.D.

To learn more about the Little Salt Springs excavations and its closing, see the article at Tampa Bay Online.

Advertisements

Stunning Photos: Underwater Archaeology

Today, National Geographic highlights their stunning collection of photographs of underwater archaeology.

To see their collection, check out this article from National Geographic.

Roman Shipwreck Full of Wine Jars Found in Mediterranean

Nautical Archaeologists have recently discovered a Roman era shipwreck off of the coast of Albania. The wreck, which dates to the 1st century BCE was filled with amphorae used to store wine. Archaeologists believe that merchants were transporting the wine from Albania’s vineyards to be sold throughout the Mediterranean.

In spite of its age and relatively shallow depth (50 m below sea level), the wreck is remarkably well preserved and nearly all of the vessel seem to be in tact. Both American and Albanian archaeologists will work together to excavate the findings and are excited about the potential for insight it provides about this period in Roman history.

To read more about the wreck and its findings, see this article on MSNBC.

BP Oil-Spill Cleanup Reveals Ancient Artifacts

The BP oil spill in the Gulf is currently the greatest ecological disaster in human history – devastating wildlife and gulf-based businesses alike. However, one surprising positive (of the very few) to come out of this tragedy has been that the clean-up has sparked and unprecedented number of archaeological discoveries. Animal bones, weaponry, pottery, and more, attributed to pre-historic native settlements, have been identified.

So far, teams of archaeologists hired by the oil giant have visited more than 100 sites and sent back a growing list of finds to labs for radiocarbon dating and other tests, though extensive excavations haven’t been done. Scholars have also accompanied cleanup crews to make sure they don’t unwittingly throw away relics.

To read more about the archaeological studies in the Gulf, check out the article at the Seattle Times.

 

Little Salt Springs Excavations in Florida

This article has some personal elements attached to the professional ones. This article highlights some of the recent finds from a small marine site at Little Salt Springs in Florida. The lead archaeologist is my old college mentor, John Gifford, Ph.D. at the University of Miami.

The underwater site highlights the lives of Paleo-Indians living in Florida 10,000 years ago.

“The deposits in here are like a fruit cake — totally packed with goodies,” says John Gifford

As the site is located under 200 feet of water, the materials are remarkably preserved, providing more insight into this period of Florida’s site than most contemporary sites. You can read more about the site and its recent finds in this Miami Herald article.