The place of burial was located during the Early Archaic period about 7,000 years ago in an area near where the city of Venice stands today.
Florida authorities announced today the finding “unprecedented” a 7,000-year-old burial site under the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which, they said, can help “better understand” the first inhabitants of what is now the Floridian territory.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in a statement that the archaeological site called Manasota Key Offshore (MKO) is located on the continental shelf, off the west coast of the state, in what appears to have been thousands of years back, when the sea did not cover the area, a pool of fresh water.
Since the first discoveries were reported in MKO, in June 2016, experts from the Archaeological Research Board (BAR) of the state began work that has confirmed the existence of a prehistoric site under water with an area of about 3,000 square meters.
That place of burial was located during the Early Archaic period about 7,000 years ago in an area close to where the city of Venice stands today.
“The Florida Department of State takes the responsibility to conserve, treat respectfully and give security to this unique and special place very seriously,” said Detzner.
According to him, the archaeologists of BAR have done “an incredible work of documentation and research” that can help “to know and understand the native peoples better“.
A cemetery forbidden to divers
The Secretary of State stressed that “out of respect for the individuals buried there and their descendants alive,” divers and other persons are prohibited from accessing the site, which is protected by Florida law and controlled by representatives of law enforcement agencies. they carry out “frequent” patrols.
The statement recalls that in Florida it is illegal to dig, extract materials and / or human remains from the site, destroy, commit vandalism or damage places where people are buried.
The research carried out so far shows that during the Early Archaic Period, when the sea level was much lower than at present, the area where MKO is was not submerged and there was a small pool of fresh water where the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of Florida left their dead.
As the sea level rose, that pool was covered by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but, despite this, the peat at the bottom remained intact and that helped to “preserve well” what was in place.
Submerged prehistoric burial sites are extremely rare and only in Israel and Denmark are there some, according to the Florida Department of State.
Timothy Parsons, director of the Historical Resources Division of the State Department, said the MKO site is “a revelation for the world of archeology.”
Ryan Duggins, supervisor of underwater archeology at BAR, considered “inspiring” to have found a submerged reservoir under the Gulf of Mexico “so well preserved.”
On behalf of the Seminole people, Paul Backhouse, responsible for tribal historical conservation, expressed his satisfaction at being able to elaborate with other institutions a plan that “allows the ancestors to continue resting in peace and without human interference for the next 7,000 years”.
Source: ABC Cultura