WTOP News reports that the possible site of a 300-year-old slave quarter has been found near an eighteenth-century brick manor once inhabited by Jesuit missionaries.
The announcement was made Tuesday by researchers from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration and St. Mary’s College in Maryland.
According to MDOT SHA, most of the items were discovered close to the brick manor of 18th century once owned by Jesuit missionaries in Newtowne Neck State Park.
The quarters may date back to around 1700.
“The Jesuits were prolific in their record-keeping, but very little survived on the enslaved African Americans who worked the fields and served the Catholic Church,” said Julie Schablitsky, MDOT SHA’s chief archaeologist in a news release.
“If there was ever a place in Maryland that holds the story of diverse cultures converging to find religious freedom in an environment of conflict, sacrifice and survival, it is here.”
MDOT SHA said documents point to the sale of 272 slaves from Maryland in 1838 near the manor.
Descendants of those slaves still live in Maryland.
The Rev. Dante Eubanks, a resident of Leonardtown, has traced his family to the St. Mary’s plantation.
“To be able to stand in the exact place where my ancestors lived and endured is a powerful experience,” Eubanks said. “We need to remember these stories, they are important to our history and healing.”
Maryland archaeologists are using metal detectors to pinpoint the locations of early cabins along Md. Route 243, places where the enslaved left evidence of their lives in broken clay tobacco pipes, ceramic cups and rusty nails.
“MDOT SHA’s participation in this archaeological dig is a unique way to experience history firsthand,” SHA Administrator Tim Smith said in a release.
“I’m proud of the work this team of archaeologists is doing to preserve the history of early Marylanders.”
MDOT SHA said the artefacts need to be analyzed to learn more.
Impressive Water Purification System Found at Ancient Maya City
For fundamental human life, water is necessary. Yet polluted water can also spread lethal viruses that can kill whole communities. Safe, clean water offers humanity one of its best chances to thrive.
Many ancient cultures purified their rivers, including the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. Water treatment methods are also mentioned in Sanskrit texts dating from 2,000 BCE. Now, archaeologists have also discovered the Mayan of South America – and their water filtration mechanism was amazingly effective.
In a reservoir in what was once the major Maya city of Tikal, the ruins of which crumble in a rainforest in present-day Guatemala, archaeologists have found zeolite and quartz – minerals that are not local to the area, and which are both effective at helping remove contaminants such as microbes, heavy metals, and nitrogen compounds from water.
So effective, in fact, that they are both used in water filtration systems today.
“What’s interesting is this system would still be effective today, and the Maya discovered it more than 2,000 years ago,” said anthropologist Kenneth Barnett Tankersley of the University of Cincinnati.
Zeolite, in particular, is interesting. It’s a natural crystalline compound of silicon and aluminium, linked via shared oxygen atoms to form an open crystal lattice. It has excellent absorption and ion exchange properties, which makes it very effective at filtering water.
But, although the ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a pozzolan – an ingredient for cement – in aquatic structures such as bridges and aqueducts, archaeologists thought that zeolite hadn’t been used for water filtration until around the beginning of the 20th century.
“The apparent zeolite filtration system at Tikal’s Corriental reservoir is the oldest known example of water purification in the Western Hemisphere,” the authors wrote, “and the oldest known use of zeolite for decontaminating drinking water in the world.”
The ability to have clean water was of deep importance to the Maya, and of great concern, particularly to Tikal. The city’s only water source was 10 reservoirs. Given the large population, and the highly variable climate that went through periods of seasonal drought, their drinking water was prone to contamination from both microbes and cinnabar, or mercury sulfide, a pigment the Maya used heavily.
It stands to reason that they had some means of keeping the water clean. So Tankersley and his team went to investigate. They studied three of the largest reservoirs in the ancient city, as well as a local sinkhole as a control for mineral composition.
The discovery was made in the Corriental reservoir, an important source of drinking water for the residents of Tikal, and one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in use by the Maya for over a thousand years. Mixed in among the sediment at the bottom of the reservoir, the team found what they were looking for: zeolite and coarse quartz sand.
The zeolite was found only in the Corriental reservoir. There’s no way it could have just happened to be there when the reservoir was dug.
In fact, the team believes that the mineral was quarried from a site some 30 kilometres (18 miles) northeast of Tikal. There, volcanic rock forms an aquifer known to produce exceptionally clear water. University of Cincinnati geographer Nicholas Dunning was familiar with the area after previously conducting fieldwork there.
“It was an exposed, weathered volcanic tuff of quartz grains and zeolite. It was bleeding water at a good rate,” Dunning said. “Workers refilled their water bottles with it. It was locally famous for how clean and sweet the water was.”
The team compared the Corriental quartz and zeolite from material taken from the aquifer and found that the two were a very close match. They also used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the sediment and dated it to between 2,185 and 965 years ago.
It’s impossible to know exactly how the filtration system worked, but putting together the evidence, the team believes that it has a pretty good picture.
“The filtration system was likely held behind dry-laid stone walls with the zeolites and macrocrystalline sand-sized quartz crystals further constrained with woven petate (woven reed or palm fibre matting) or other perishable porous material positioned just upstream of, or within the reservoir ingresses, which were periodically ejected into the reservoir during flash floods caused by tropical cyclones,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
And it seems to have worked. Mercury deposits, likely from cinnabar contamination, had previously been found in several other Tikal reservoirs. Not a trace of it could be detected in Corriental.
“The ancient Maya lived in a tropical environment and had to be innovators. This is a remarkable innovation,” Tankersley said.
“A lot of people look at Native Americans in the Western Hemisphere as not having the same engineering or technological muscle of places like Greece, Rome, India, or China. But when it comes to water management, the Maya were millennia ahead.”
Found: The Oldest and Largest Maya Structure in Mexico
The oldest and largest Maya monumental structure on record has just been discovered after scientists shot millions of lasers from a plane to map an area in southern Mexico.
At the newfound site, called Aguada Fénix, researchers found an artificial plateau measuring about 0.9 miles (1.4 kilometers) long, 0.2 miles (399 meters) wide, and between 33 and 50 feet (10 and 15 m) high. And it likely served as a communal gathering place for the Maya.
The discovery pushes back when archaeologists thought this civilization built large structures, especially because there weren’t yet any dynasties to organize such an endeavor.
“It forced us to change our understanding of the development of Maya civilization and the development of human society in general,” said Takeshi Inomata, a professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona, who led a new study on the finding.
Archaeologists have traditionally thought that the Maya civilization developed gradually. From 1200 B.C. to 1000 B.C., the people in the Maya lowlands were thought to have moved about, with a combination of hunting, gathering, and some farming, including growing maize.
It wasn’t until the Middle Preclassic period (1000-350 B.C.), the thinking went, that small village began to emerge, along with the creation of ceramics and a transition to sedentism — staying in one place for a long time.
According to this theory, the Maya didn’t begin building ceremonial centers with large pyramids until much later, sometime between 350 B.C. and 250 B.C. However, this idea is now under fire. Radiocarbon dating of 69 samples from Aguada Fénix shows that it was used between 1000 B.C. and 800 B.C. After it was largely abandoned by 750 B.C., small groups returned to use the structure.
Aguada Fénix isn’t the only site overturning the traditional interpretation. For instance, a ceremonial complex and artificial plateau built at Ceibal in 950 B.C. (until now, considered the oldest Maya ceremonial center), indicates that the early Maya built large structures even before the civilization became organized under dynasties with centralized government, the researchers said.
Not ‘deep in the jungle’
Aguada Fénix wasn’t hidden deep in the jungle, but rather on a cattle ranch in Tabasco, Mexico, near the northwestern Guatemalan border. Nobody knew about this site because it’s so big, that if you walk on the site it just looks like a natural landscape, Inomata told Live Science.
After finding the site in 2017, Inomata and his colleagues did a lidar (light detection and ranging) survey at Tabasco. With lidar, a plane flies over an area while equipment on board shoots millions of lasers that can pass through vegetation and generate 3D maps depicting the shape of the Earth and the structures on it.
The lidar survey revealed the artificial plateau and nine causeways radiating from it. The main plateau is up to 151 million cubic feet (4.3 million cubic meters) in volume. The next largest Maya structure, the La Danta complex at El Mirador in Guatemala, is 98 million cubic feet (2.8 million cubic meters).
“In other words, the main plateau of Aguada Fénix is the largest construction in the pre-Hispanic Maya area,” the researchers wrote in the study. After the lidar survey, the researchers excavated the plateau to learn more about its construction. During that time, the team found jade and stone artifacts that were likely used in rituals at Aguada Fénix.
Power to the people
Aguada Fénix bears some similarities to San Lorenzo, an even larger artificial plateau built by the Olmec, who thrived there from 1400 B.C. to 1150 B.C. in what is now the Mexican state of Veracruz. San Lorenzo also has colossal sculptures of stone heads and thrones, a clue that the Olmec society already had a hierarchy because it was honoring certain elites.
There is a debate on whether the Olmec civilization led to the Maya, or whether the Maya developed independently, Inomata noted.
That said, unlike San Lorenzo, Aguada Fénix had far less evidence of social inequality, the researchers found. “Unlike those Olmec centers, Aguada Fénix does not exhibit clear indicators of marked social inequality, such as sculptures representing high-status individuals,” the researchers wrote in the study. “The only stone sculpture found so far at Aguada Fénix depicts an animal” — a peccary, or wild pig.
Aguada Fénix differs in other ways from San Lorenzo; it incorporates distinctly Maya features, including raised causeways and reservoir systems, said Lisa Lucero, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was not involved with the study.
While later Maya pyramids were built for the elite, Aguada Fénix was built by the people, for the people. “This big plateau is basically for everybody,” Inomata said. “It’s a place where people [could] gather.”
It’s no surprise that the Maya built a place to congregate, Lucero said. Other monumental structures, including Stonehenge in Great Britain and Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, show “when people lived dispersed and/or a more nomadic lifestyle, that they created a community to build such places,” and they didn’t need elite political leaders to organize it, she said.
At Aguada Fénix, Maya who was dispersed due to agricultural demands could come together to work, celebrate, share knowledge, exchange goods, meet potential mates, worship, and so on, Lucero told Live Science.
“Based on the different soils, it is likely that people from many different communities built Aguada Fénix, even bringing soils from their homes,” she added. The study was published online June 3 in the journal Nature.
The Kaibab Plateau located in central Northern Arizona showcases a mysterious majestic city epic in size and proportion. While this city is officially referred to as a series of natural “Grand Canyon Monuments”, they are in fact precisely arranged pyramids towers and temples aligned to both the star and nebula pattern of ORION “The Hunter” and Pleiades constellations.
This appears to be a great city of a “lost” continent hidden in plain sight. There is neither folklore nor definition of it, although, Egyptian and Asian artifacts have been found.
Some of which swiped under the guidance of the Smithsonian Institute. If giant Nephilim skeletons were recovered, only the inner circles of the secret societies would know. The city is veiled in secrecy using deceptive language and tactics as a device for keeping the general population from understanding what the “Monuments of the Grand Canyon” truly are.
A water sculpted canyon. Now that’s a ‘wonder’
The Monuments embedded within this great chasm is now confirmed to be a set of pyramids and structures defining a city of such enormous expanse that it very well could have been the metropolis of a lost continent populated with an antediluvian civilization. The antediluvian period begins with the Creation according to Genesis and ends with the destruction of all life on the earth except those saved with Noah in the Ark, and possibly disguised by the knowledge of the secret societies.
This city is a remnant of an ancient continent. It remains a mystery, however, the notion that it may even be infamous and highly sought after the lost continent of Atlantis is certainly plausible, it most likely is a companion pyramid array not unlike what would be found at the 19th leyline node, Atlantis, or the first node where the great pyramid Khufu stands exactly in the centre of the earth plane.
The hypothetical “Lost land” known as Lemuria might be considered by some, however, the legend and theories regarding Lemuria are more rooted in fictional hearsay than would lend more research for revival here with the identifying location as a reasonable manner the city within the canyon. The opposite may be true as further research takes place in which more may be revealed.
West Java, Indonesia perhaps
In the case of the sunken continent of Atlantis, it has always been thought of as an entire parcel of land surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The world-renowned cosmic channel, Edgar Cayce, verifies this although sceptics and others have postulated otherwise.
One professor, the late professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos, suggests Atlantis is in the location of the newly discovered pyramids found on West Java, Indonesia. Other volumes of published materials produce mostly conjecture, however, without an honest look at real evidence. They are valiant efforts.
The likely truth is that a world flood did occur covering much of the topography of the land and seas in which when had mostly receded, Atlantis remained submerged and not sunken at all. Or, the waters that were added to the downpour of the waters from above creating the destructive force killing all life and devastating all constructs on the surface created a ‘sinkhole’ effect in which the mythical place we call Atlantis did actually sink.
There is a proof now that pyramids do exist in the Southwest United States. They do reside under an ancient seabed which establishes that they are all coordinated and line up precisely with the major stars and nebulae of the constellation Orion “The Hunter”. The same has been established with the great pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The difference is that all of the stars and nebulae of Orion match with the canyon Monuments with clarity.
The Grand Canyon with all its pristine beauty is neither naturally formed or organic in nature. This unique area at the Kaibab Plateau is indeed a widespread chasm that could not have possibly been carved out by a tumultuous river which is narrow by comparison. A simple observation of the angularity about the Monuments shows that they are devoid of sweeping curves on the stones. This logically demonstrates that water did not spend enough time sculpting smooth forms.
Is the historic record genuine?
If geologists, archaeologists, scientists of all areas agree that the mighty Colorado River in it’s strange but rather small in scale and configuration could form this canyon, then perhaps our geological historians are accurate. I agree that a river or series of them did cut vast areas of earth from the South to North rim and then on over to Nevada and down. I’ll buy the argument that simply because these are ancient structures built of hardened earth and that the soft was swept away over millions of years and so on has to be that simply because I’m showing proof these are aligned to stars.
I would have to also think that if we washed away all of the soft earth over the entire continent that we’d find the whole of our astrological system in the form of intelligently crafted pointed buildings. After all, what else other than a globe besieged by water could bury so many archaeological finds throughout the world? I do not believe that over time earthly renovations due to tropical storms, even hurricanes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity could have buried modern in ancient times cities.
There is evidence that mighty pointed formations are found in other canyons. And, they are also stepped and blocked. Blocks are angled at 90 degrees and these angles are seen in the Grand Canyon almost every yard of the way. This means that rivers did etch away doing its beautiful carving of the Great Deluge sediment from the original engineering constructs.
If this is absurd, then there’s room to suggest that there may have been an alien intentioned agenda at large. Perhaps there were massive ore harvesting projects aimed at stealing enormous caches of treasure, in particular, GOLD. A mining project as large as Massachusetts perhaps.
An Alien archaeological dig
If the historical record is wrong that a river the width of the Colorado River could have snaked its way completely and everywhere around these monumental features, then there must be an explanation as to how this massive ditch be created. The river could have been wider or several as opposed to the single one we know today, however, if there is an explanation, it would have to be alien inspired.
This great gorge may actually be an ancient geoforming project on the largest of scales known on planet Earth. The intent, obviously Alien, was to remove the softer ancient seabed sediment and earth that had engulfed the city. This occurred most likely during the flooding of the planet as told in Biblical terms regarding Noah and the story of the Ark.
This city then became an unearthed treasure trove find by off-world interests. Perhaps those who competed, or even battled against the Anunnaki of Nibiru (Planet X). Their goal perhaps for conquest over the megalithic cache of gold – primarily – that to a person living today be incomprehensibly vast. For you see, the Monuments of the Grand Canyon may have been completely covered – layered – in gold. The temples were filled as well as ordained with silver, gold and platinum. Aluminium was also a valuable metal. This city could very well have had the appearance of a scaled-up, way up, version of the most ornate crown of jewellery.
Why was this alien archaeological dig conducted?
To plunder and harvest gold of coarse. A project of this size had to have been to liberate the treasure from a whole city the size of, well, the Grand Canyon. Alien ‘Pirates’! Once the city was revealed, some incredible technology had to have been implemented to strip the precious metals from the massive Monuments. Perhaps a complex smelting process was used. The gold then off-loaded to other locations on Earth or off-world. Hollywood, as always, gives us a “tell” in an alien-related film in which an unusual method is shown how an alien intelligence extracts gold from the earth. This is relevant for the reason it is taking place in Arizona, the location of the mining, or excavation, is in a canyon, and that it is being conducted by aliens. Furthermore, a war is taking place all because of gold.
Iroquoian Woodland Village Site Discovered in Ontario
Excavation of an Iroquoian village site in southeastern Canada ahead of a road construction project has yielded more than 35,000 artefacts, according to a Kitchener Today report.
Representatives of the Six Nations of the Grand Reserve, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have been working with archaeologists throughout the process. Archaeologist Barbara Slim said the village has been dated to between A.D. 1300 and 1600.
The village site has yielded over 35,000 to date in the 400 square units that have been excavated. Those one-by-one metre squares of hand sifted soil have included evidence of permanent settlement, ceramics used for cooking and food preparation, stone tools and more.
Associate Archeologist with Wood PLC Barbara Slim said that the company is working closely with the Region of Waterloo as part of the Fischer-Hallman road redevelopment. She said the site was initially uncovered in 2017 in the western end of the property, eventually found to extend to the East through construction monitoring.
“Usually in archaeology when you have a roadway you assume that… that extent of disturbance would completely have removed the site…” said Slim. “… in this case, it did the opposite; it capped it under one-point-eight metres of fill with four layers of asphalt – so we’re in the process of excavating that.”
According to their findings, Slim said the site being excavated is a late woodland village, dated to be from around 1300 to 1600. The investigation has found a permanent settlement with several longhouses, as well as a broad range of artefacts and bone material.
Some of the more interesting items from the excavation include carbonized evidence of bean and corn – a unique find dated to that time period. Also uncovered was a chalcedony projectile point, made from a material not found in Southern Ontario.
“… we know there were a number of different villages within the area – at least four or five that we know of. It is quite important to understand that time period in Ontario archaeology, and to get a better sense of how long we’ve been here,” said Slim. “I should mention we also found an artefact that dates to 4,000 years ago – that just goes to show this was a very important resource area where people were coming back (…) to utilize the resources available.”
Slim said an important part of the work of archaeologists is to work with local indigenous communities to do the work alongside them. The project is accompanied by several Indigenous field liaison representatives – including those from Six Nations of the Grand Reserve, Haudenosaunee Development Institute and Mississaugas of the Credit.
Matthew Muttart is the field director with Wood PLC and has experience working closely with these groups in the excavation process. He said that First Nations groups have brought traditional and cultural perspective to the artefacts being unearthed.
“I’m very fortunate to have them with me in the field because we look at the site and how to proceed together. We discuss our methodology and how we’re going to proceed – and that’s very useful for me,” said Muttart.
Due to the volume of artefacts found, the archaeological work is set to continue for the rest of this construction season, with additional work needing to be completed next year.
It’s expected that excavation costs will be higher than originally estimated, with additional costs for completing road construction work that will now need to be completed later. Excavation staff will be providing an updated report to Regional Council in the new year.
Slim said she’s optimistic that Fischer-Hallman Road will be reopened as planned by the end of 2020 with a 2-lane temporary road cross-section.
In the offseason, Muttart said artefacts will be cleaned, catalogued and analysed to see if they can find any patterns or answer any questions to get a better understanding of the inhabitants of the site.
“We try to engage with the general public with the First Nations groups and try to have the artefacts tell a story, educate people and give a perspective…” said Muttart. “We’re in this part of the world that have been occupied for at least 10,000 years; it has a very rich history and a history that Canadians don’t get a lot of opportunities to learn about…”
“We’re writing the last chapter of this site… so it’s really important that we’re doing it meticulously, giving it the respect and care that the site deserves – as archaeologists, we’re stewards to that’s our charge.”
Archaeologists on site are operating with a modified protocol due to COVID-19 – with teams of three now working separately with masks in order to ensure safe physical distancing. Slim said the important measure has slowed the operation down, but not enough to make a significant dent in the team’s schedule. Local students were also originally set to join the dig team – that measure has been postponed to the Spring should the COVID-19 pandemic be more under control.
“Every day here has been really exciting – every component of the site has evolved in a very unique way. It’s been a very challenging project from the beginning, but very interesting to work with the communities, to work with this great team we have here to unearth what’s preserved…”
Century-Old Little Girl Found In Coffin Under San Francisco Home Identified
In the 1800s the mysterious girl, whose body was found under a house in San Francisco, her body entombed in a small lead and bronze coffin and her well-preserved hands clutching a single red rose, has been identified.
Garden of Innocence’s nonprofit project says the child — who not only astonished the work Crew who stumbled over the Casket but also city officials who thought the bodies in the 19th century Richmond District cemetery had all been moved — is Edith Howard Cook.
Edith was a month and a half short of her third birthday when she died Oct. 13, 1876, according to researchers working with the Southern California’s Garden of Innocence.
The cause of her death? Probably severe undernourishment caused by an infection, the researchers said.
The team had been working to identify the girl since her body was discovered during a home remodelling project near Lone Mountain.
“It was a light at the end of the tunnel finding out who she is,” said Erica Hernandez, a project spokeswoman
The researchers, who included staff at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis, located records from the old cemetery that was run by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows until about 1902, when the graves were relocated to Colma.
Although the paperwork was “unorganized,” Hernandez said, the team was able to cross-reference plot records with old newspaper obituaries and get an idea of who the young child might be.
Once it concluded that Edith was probably the girl, the team tracked down living relatives for a DNA sample to verify their finding. That confirmation came when a sample from Edith’s hair matched that of Peter Cook, a descendant of her brother, who lives in Marin County.
Edith Howard Cook was the second child and first daughter of Horatio Nelson and Edith Scooffy Cook. Peter Cook is descended from Edith’s older brother, Milton H. Cook.
Edith’s family was believed to be of decent means, having buried the child in a relatively expensive metal casket 37 inches in length, with two viewing windows on the lid.
Her skin and hair, as well as her burial flowers, were well preserved. She was one of about 30,000 people with graves at the old Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Why her remains weren’t transported to Colma around 1920, when the city wanted to make room for the living, remains a mystery.
Skeletons Found Under a Florida Wine Shop May Be Some of America’s First Colonists
Historians recently announced in Florida that several small children’s bones buried beneath underneath the last place one might think to look: a wine shop.
However, there will be no police inquiry. The Florida wine shop happens to be located in St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. And those bones? They’re just about as old as the city is.
The archaeologists actually believe that these skeletal remains could have been among the first settlers in North America.
In the past few weeks, researchers have found seven people including three children, in the ancient graveyard.
According to the St. Augustine Register, one of them was a young white European woman.
Researchers are still examining the other remains, but a pottery fragment found nearby suggests that these people died sometime between 1572 and 1586.
“What you’re dealing with is people who made St. Augustine what it is,” Carl Halbirt, St. Augustine city archaeologist, tells FirstCoast News. “You’re in total awe. You want to treat everything with respect, and we are.”
Archaeologists were able to dig underneath the building thanks to the effects of last year’s Hurricane Matthew, the flooding from which convinced the building’s owner that it was time to replace the wooden floor.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the building’s floor was constructed in 1888, and the soil beneath the building has remained untouched since then, thus creating a virtual time capsule.
The building also happens to be built where the ancient Church of Nuestra Señora de la Remedios used to stand.
“The mission churches across Florida buried everybody in the church floor,” Ellsbeth Gordon, an architectural historian, told FirstCoast News. “It was consecrated ground, of course.”
According to Smithsonian, Sir Francis Drake burned the church down in 1586, a hurricane destroyed it again in 1599, and the British once again burned it down in 1702.
That last time may have been for good, but until then the church had been the main meeting point for a colony that had been established 55 years before the Pilgrims ever set foot on Plymouth Rock.
While the archaeologists are planning on moving the bones found outside the wine shop to a nearby cemetery, the skeletons found inside will stay right where they have lain for the past 400 years.
Hundreds of Well Preserved Prehistoric Animals have been Found in an Ancient Volcanic Ashbed in Nebraska
The watering holes attracted prehistoric animals among Nebraska’s tall grasslands. From horses to camels and rhinoceroses, with wild dogs looming nearby, animals roamed the savanna-like region.
Then, one day, it all changed. Hundreds of miles away, a volcano in southeast Idaho erupted. Within days, up to two feet of ash covered parts of present-day Nebraska.
Some of the animals died immediately, consumed with ash and other debris. Most of the animals lived for several more days, their lungs ingesting ash as they searched the ground for food. Within a few weeks, northeast Nebraska was barren of animals, except for a few survivors.
More than 12 million years later, a fossil was found in Antelope County, near the small town of Royal. The skull of a baby rhino was discovered by a Nebraska palaeontologist and his wife while exploring the area. The fossil was exposed by erosion. Soon after, exploration started in the area.
As more discoveries were made, the site grew into a tourist attraction. Today, people visit Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park to check out hundreds of fossils from 12 species of animals, including five types of horses, three species of camels, as well as a sabre-toothed deer. The infamous sabre-toothed cat remains a dream discovery.
Visitors view fossils inside the Hubbard Rhino Barn, a 17,500-square foot facility that protects the fossils while allowing visitors to roam on a boardwalk. Kiosks provide information on fossils located in specific areas.
As you tour the barn, if a summer intern or palaeontologist is nearby, they are open to discussing their work, as well as answering questions. During our visit, we learned that an intern had discovered a fossilized dog paw print.
Outside the barn, visitors can read facts about the area, including that mammoths migrated to North America about 1.5 million years ago. A yellow flag in an area a short distance from the main walk to the barn indicates the discovery site of the rhino skull. Red flags showcase spots where additional fossils were discovered.
Visitor activities and views at Ashfall Fossil Beds
In addition to the Hubbard Barn, Ashfall Fossil Beds features a discovery area where children can cipher through the sand searching for their own fossil discoveries. A small barn is used for special exhibits, as well as classes.
The visitors centre houses some animal remains, as well as palaeontologists working on recent finds. About 60 million years before the area was home to the savanna, Nebraska was part of a tropical sea.
Fossils found in the area include a plesiosaur, a mammal from the Jurassic Period. The fossils displayed were found on the Santee reservation, about an hour away.
Sculptures representing animals from the region are located around the state historical park. Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park kicks off its summer hours Memorial Day weekend when it’s open daily through Labor Day. Otherwise, check the website here for hours.
A state park permit ($6 per vehicle for an in-state day permit or free with an annual pass) is required for visiting the park, in addition to the $7 entrance fee.