Archaeologists discover 7,000-year-old burial site in the Gulf of Mexico
An unmarked Native American burial site more than 7,200 years old was discovered a quarter-mile off Manasota Key, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Wednesday.
The site near Venice was first discovered by an amateur diver in June 2016, who then reported possible human remains on the continental shelf to the Bureau of Archaeological Research.
It’s against the law to disturb any unmarked human burial sites, so underwater archaeologists had to use techniques such as sonar and magnetometry to investigate. After a year and a half of investigating, they could firmly say that the area that measures less than an acre was an inland, peat-bottomed, freshwater pond used for burial from the Early Archaic Period.
“Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early people,” Detzner said.
Officials called the discovery “unprecedented.” Florida has a number of pond burial sites from the Archaic Period, including Little Salt Spring in Sarasota County. But it’s the first discovery of underwater preservation from the Archaic Period in the Americas, having made it through sea level rise in the last ice age. During this time period, the pond sat 9 feet above sea level.