An international team of scientists led by Dr. Hannes Schroeder and Professor Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen successfully reconstructed the full genome of a Lucayan-Taino individual from a thousand-year-old tooth discovered by AHC archaeologists at Preacher’s Cave on Eleuthera in the northern Bahamas. This was the first successful determination of Lucayan DNA. It established the Bahamian DNA's close relation to Taino DNA found in Cuba and Puerto Rico and demonstrates that the Lucayan migration began from the south with its origin in the area of colonial Venezuela.
Legend has it that a schooner was buried at the site shown above on a 1920 Sanborn map of 1920 as the Mangonia Boatyard. Excavations and monitoring uncovered the remains of a wooden structure and rail used for hauling boats in and out of Lake Worth. The remanins if the structure consisted of a wood plank floor, beams, and artifacts such as iron fasteners, a boiler, glass bottles, and a crankshaft likely from a steam engine. The 12 x 4 meter structure was preserved by the City of West Palm Beach within a green space and a water retention pond.
In 2017, a Pleistocene fossil deposit was found in an excavated quarry in rural Palm Beach County. AHC archaeologists discovered large mineralized mammal bones and tooth fragments
about one meter below the surface. The bone bed is associated with a remnant creek and pond that may have been a water source for late Pleistocene mammals. The deposit appears to be
relatively dense with fossils of a variety of taxa, including mammoth, horse, and deer. No cultural materials were observed with the possible exception of a bison bone with cut marks.
The site was characterized as an elevated shell mound that measured about 100 feet north to south and about 50 feet wide, although it was measured about 400 feet north to south and about 100 feet wide based on a 1895 plat map. The mound had an elevation of about 20-30 feet above the sea level. The site was characterized by areas of dense midden containing oyster shell, faunal bone, and prehistoric ceramics. A sand mound also was documented on its western part.
The most intact archaeological deposits occur in the northeast area of the parcel where the new residence will be situated. Most of the recovered prehistoric material consisted of shell refuse and faunal bone. Artifacts include prehistoric ceramics, most being sand-tempered plain. Other artifacts include a shell celt (Busycon), drilled shark teeth, and a socketed bone point. Of particular interest are two unidentified coprolites. The coprolites are of scientific significance because they have preserved materials that could provide important information about diet, disease and DNA. It is likely that the site is at least 1000 years old, but radiocarbon dates are pending. Previous references indicate the existence of a shell mound and human remains associated with the site .
The Archaeological and Historical Conservancy played a major role in the discovery and preservation of the Miami Circle, providing an opportunity for archaeologists to uncover the Circle, donating over $40,000 to the project cost. We also directed the analysis of over 143,000 objects that were recovered from the Circle, many now featured at an exhibition at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in Miami. The site was discovered in 1988 by thhen Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Director Robert Carr. Carr supervised the excavation of several test units which revealed basins cut in the bedrock, each filled with black dirt midden. Surveyor Ted Riggs recognized that the basins formed an arc, and September 1998, excavation of a 40-foot-diameter area revealed that the basins formed a circle. The area within and around the circle was excavated by County Archaeologist John Ricisak supervising AHC archaeologists and dedicated volunteers continued to excavate the site and make important discoveries. Rare stone celts, animal burials, a sea turtle shell, a dolphin skull, and an articulated shark skeleton appeared to be offerings. Radiocarbon dates suggest the shark dated to around 1600 A.D. while charcoal found on and in the basins was dated to ca. 200 - 300 A.D. As the significance of the site was being revealed, public attention heightened and a campaign began to save the circle, leading to its public purchase. In 2007, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and in 2009, designated a National landmark. Most archaeologists interpret the circle as the footprint of a structure. Due to its careful construction and size (38 feet in diameter) it probably had a sacred and/or public function. The remains of sacrificed animals suggest ritual ceremonialism at the site.
On a Miramar dairy farm in 1991, AHC archaeologists uncovered evidence of a Tequesta burial and artifacts from earliest known Seminole settlement in southeast Florida. Historian Patsy West identified the farm as the location of a group of hammock islands inhabited during the 1830s. One of the islands was called Chitto's Island or Snake Warrior's Island after Chief Chitto- Tustenugee, known as Snake Warrior. Chitto-Tustenugee, for the Seminoles and Miccosukees, signed the Biscayne Bay agreement of 1838 with General Alex Macomb, allowing the Indians a territory extending from Punta Rassa to Lake Okeechobee and south to the Shark River and the Gulf of Mexico. The Indians regarded this as a first step to staying in Florida, but farmers and trappers ignored the agreement and war the Second Seminole War broke out. Snake Warrier and his people were forced into the Everglades. After the war, some Seminoles returned to live on the islands until white pioneers claimed their land in the 1890s. The site was purchased by the State of Florida in 1992. Broward County restored and opened it as a natural area in 2004.
The Battle of Lake Okeechobee, depicted in this painting by Johnny Montgomery, was one of the largest engagements of the Second Seminole War, helping to propel Zachary Taylor to the U.S. presidency. The battle took place on Christmas day, 1837. Col. Taylor led 1000 troops across an open swamp to attack 400 Seminole and Miccosukee Indians ensconced in a dense hammock, led by Billy Bowlegs, Sam Jones, Alligator, and Wildcat. The battle left 26 dead and 112 wounded U.S. troops, while the Indians had 11 dead, 14 wounded, and 180 captured. Both sides claimed victory the U.S. declaring it a rout; and the Indians, a successful guerilla maneuver. Taylor won a promotion and the nickmane "Old Rough and Ready." A bloodier battle was never again fought in the course of the Seminole Wars (1817-1858.) AHC made the first discoveries indicative of the battlefield's location and led a 20-year campaign to preserve it. In 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the site on their list of America's Most Endangered Places. It was purchased by the State of Florida in 2006 and is now Okeechobee Battlefield Historic Park. The popular, annual Battle of Lake Okeechobee reenactments helped raise funds for the purchase.
Otter Mound is a shell midden, part of a complex of shell features constructed from oyster, southern surf clam, lightning whelk, and other shellfish that once covered 80 acres on Marco Island. The Caxambas Site was constructed by the Calusa, who ruled southwestern Florida from AD 500-1750. They were fisher-hunter-gatherers who were able to develop a complex culture without the benefit of the social stratification concomitant with the practice of agriculture as happened in other cultures. Their artistic sophistication was startlingly revealed in the 1896 discovery of the expressive Key Marco wood carvings. The artwork was preserved in oxygen-free muck and it deteriorated immediately upon exposure to the air. In the early 1900s, Otter Mound was part of Caxambas Village, a small settlement that grew up around the clamming industry. Around 1950, the property occupied by the mound was sold to Ernest and Gladys Otter. The signature whelk walls are historic features built with found shell over the years by Ernest. AHC persuaded the Otters to sell the property to Collier County. Conservation Collier purchased 1.77 acres in 2004. Another .68 acre was added in 2007. Along with the historic and prehistoric sites, Otter Mound Preserve conserves the tropical hardwood hammock and the gamut of plant and animal species that thrived on the Calusa-created maritime uplands.
AHC completed a survey of this large earthwork and mound complex in 1990-1991. A canal segment was radiocarbon dated at 1500 years old. The complex is significant in terms of regional trade, habitation, politics, and religion. Much of it has been acquired by Glades County and preserved as a park. 3-D rendering courtesy of Richard Thornton.
The Pine Islands, once hammock islands in the Everglades, include 20 sites preserved by the Town of Davie and Broward County within Long Key Preserve, Robbins Park, and Tree Tops Park. AHC convinced Broward County to move Nob Hill Road to avoid destroying prehistoric and Seminole sites. We also designed the exhibit hall for Long Key Nature Center (above) and the interpretive signage displayed at the park headquarters and meetings facility at Tree Tops Park.
After a bulldozer unearthed a human skull on a construction project, AHC assessed the site. Using ground penetrating redar, test trenches, monitoring, and supervising work crews the contractor provided, the unaffected burials were discovered, removed, and relocated to a green space on the grounds. AHC played an important part role in facilitating preservation of the site in 2009 as a City of Miami Historic Resource.
The 1924 Brickell Mausoleum is the only surviving structure directly associated with Miami's pioneer Brickell family. William Brickell had a trading post on the Miami River in the late 1800s. His wife, Mary Brickell, handled the family's real estate holdings. The mausoleum is located on a plot of land south of where the Brickell home was located on the river. Mary relocated several family members buried near their home to the mausoleum and deeded its five acre plot to the city for a park. In 1948 she moved all the remains to Woodlawn Cemetery because the park was too noisy. In 2001, AHC conducted a due diligence assessment of the parcel in anticipation of its proposed development. The assessment discovered prehistoric graves associated with the main Tequesta village site, 8DA12, dating to 500 BC. This put a stop to plans for development and in 2013, AHC helped prepare the designation report that resulted in the preservation of the park as an archaeological and historic site.
This historic (1800s to 1950s) cemetery in Deerfield Beach was a nondescript vacant lot to anyone but locals who remembered it and convinced the city to survey it. Two archaeological surveys were done without definitive results until AHC conducted a comprehensice assessment in 2015-2016. As a result of that work AHC refined its methods for locating defaced and hidden burials using a combination of ground penetrating radar, shovel shaving, metal detection, and identification of grave stains. A video record was made of the reminiscenses of citizens whose family members were buried there. AHC played a key role in persuading the developer to sell the land to the city. It is preserved as a memorial park honoring a Bahamian American Deerfield Beach pioneer. Prior to this
Rivermont was part of a mound complex on the New River discovered by Mark Harrington on an expedition to the Everglades in 1908. AHC surveyed the property in 2000 and 2014. Although the historic house at the top of the midden was demolished, plans for new construction faltered and the City of Fort Lauderdale was able to purchase the property. We helped the city prepare the local and national designation reports and In April, 2022, the archaeological site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The city has preserved it as a park and green space.
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