Category Archives: NORTH AMERICA

200-year-old shipwreck discovered in Florida

200-year-old shipwreck discovered in Florida

Beach erosion has revealed a shipwreck in St. Johns county.

The ship is possibly 200 years old.

“My wife and I walk the beach almost every day,” Mark O’Donoghue said. Saturday he spotted “some timbers and metal spikes,” exposed in the sand.

Sunday, even more, had been exposed and he had a hunch that it was a shipwreck. Part of the ship was poking through the sand. 

He notified the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, and they told him he was right.

Archaeologists were out Sunday and Monday, documenting the site in Crescent Beach, just north of the Matanzas Inlet. They believe the ship is from the 19th century, based on its construction and the frequency of ships wrecking on the northeast Florida coast during the 1800s.

A 200-year-old shipwreck was discovered on Crescent Beach in Florida. Archaeologists have said that it was most likely a cargo ship about the size of a semi-truck.

Archaeologist Chuck Meide stood near the middle of the exposed wooden beams in the sand and said, “If I were standing on this ship when it was a living ship, I would be in the cargo hold, standing on the very bottom. So this would be the floor of the cargo hold. 

“This is the centre line of the vessel,” he said, pointing with his foot, “so the bottom of the hull would be here and then over my head is going be the deck.”

Pat Lee lives in the condos, on the dune just above the shipwreck. He told First Coast News that no one knew there was a ship buried here until erosion started ripping away the beach.

“The wreckage there used to be under 10 feet of sand. In the last three years, we lost it. We lost it all,” Lee said. 

“It’s very cool to see the shipwreck. It is very disturbing to see the sand leave our beach,” he added.

Of course, beaches change over time. Just as this coastline is experiencing erosion now, at one point, sand accumulated along this beach.

Meide said, “The sand dune wasn’t here when the shipwrecked. We know topography and the landscape of a coast changes a lot.”

When the ship did get pushed far onto the beach, possibly by a storm, Meide speculated, sand formed around it — sealing in its secrets until now.

And for at least a year, O’donoghue was walking right by a shipwreck!

Another Possible Lost Cemetery Site Found in Florida

Another Possible Lost Cemetery Site Found in Florida

An investigation into the whereabouts of a segregation-era lost cemetery has found possible burial sites with ground-penetrating radar on MacDill Air Force Base property, according to a report in The Tampa Bay Times.

This would be the fifth lost cemetery found in the Tampa Bay area over the last 16 months. The Port Tampa Cemetery for Blacks was once near the corner of Interbay Boulevard and Manhattan Avenue. That land is now part of the base. The cemetery disappeared around the time the base opened in 1941.

There are no known records of the at least 38 bodies buried there being moved. Archaeologists began looking for the cemetery earlier this year and their report was sent to MacDill on Friday.

The red square indicates where possible graves from the Port Tampa Cemetery for Blacks were discovered on MacDill Air Force Base.

NAACP Hillsborough County Branch President Yvette Lewis also received a copy of the report. She shared it with the Tampa Bay Times. MacDill has not yet replied to a Times request for comment via email. Voicemail to a base spokesman did not pick up.

A report on Tampa cemeteries — written in the 1930s but issued in 1941 by the federal Works Progress Administration — said the Port Tampa Cemetery could be reached by starting at the corner of Interbay Boulevard and Manhattan Avenue, heading south 884 feet, turning east and going 1,327 feet.

Ground-penetrating radar in that area “identified anomalies as possible burials,” the archaeological report provided by the NAACP said. “While these anomalies were not clustered or arranged in patterns typically seen in historic cemeteries, their spacing is consistent with the use of an area as an expedient informal burial ground, where intermittent burials took place and where individual burials would not be in family groups or arranged in obvious rows.”

According to that report, there are four other areas where the cemetery could have been located:

• Immediately west of where the radar discovered grave-like anomalies. That spot is suspect because aerial maps from 1938 show it as a cleared square area.

• A 45-acre “wooded area in the northwestern area” of the base near where the radar possibly found graves. Because the archaeologists could not confirm the cemetery’s boundaries, the archaeologists recommend the “wooded tract be treated with caution in the event that human remains may be present.”

Archaeologists investigated each of those other areas with radar and dogs that can sniff human remains but found no evidence of burials. Still, those areas should be considered “sensitive,” the report read, and any work that could disturb possible graves should be avoided.

Overall, the report said, the archaeologists found obituaries and death certificates for 38 people buried in the cemetery. That included 12 stillborn infants.

The Works Progress Administration report stated it was a Black cemetery, but archaeologists did find one death record for a white burial.

The base suggests erecting a marker near Dale Mabry Gate that will honour the cemetery, according to an email from MacDill to the NAACP that Lewis also shared with the Times.

“Be it known that this plaque serves as a memorial to those dearly departed love ones who are believed to be buried on MacDill AFB at what was known as the Port Tampa Cemetery,” is suggested language for the marker.

It would also include this quote from Hillsborough County Judge Lisa D. Campbell, whose maternal grandparents buried a stillborn in the cemetery: “Through the curtain of time, we find you here, in infinite peace. We call your name and you answer in legacy and honour. Rest. Eternally.”

Port Tampa was established in the 1890s as a separate city. African Americans moved there for the jobs at the port, but they dried up once Port Tampa Bay opened to the east in the mid-1920s.

MacDill opened in 1941 and Port Tampa was annexed by the city of Tampa in 1961.

Graves from four other cemeteries have been discovered in the Tampa Bay area over the last 18 months — two in Tampa and two in Clearwater. Three of those were for Blacks. The fourth, Ridgewood Cemetery found on Tampa’s King High School campus, was for the indigent and unknown, but records indicate nearly all the burials Black.

The Pioneer cabin tree older than 1,000 years has fallen after a violent storm that hit California

The Pioneer cabin tree older than 1,000 years has fallen after a violent storm that hit California

After getting the news, it feels like the end of an age, the iconic Sequoia ‘ Tunnel Tree ‘ has gone down in history as a violent storm that struck California brought it to the Ground.

The Tunnel Tree was part of the Calaveras Big Trees State and was counted among the most famous trees across the United States. For over a century, it enchanted the hearts of the park’s visitors.

It is estimated that the gigantic tree was older than 1,000 years and measured 10 meters in diameter.

A California state park ranger

“The Pioneer Cabin Tree has fallen! This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors.

The storm was just too much for it,” reads a status update at The Calaveras Big Trees Association’s page on Facebook. The Sequoia tree was grandeur, which allowed it to claim such an iconic status.

Reports suggest that in the past couple of years, the tree was barely alive, having only one branch alive at the top.

The storm which is considered to be the strongest one to hit the area in over a decade had apparently been too much for the tree. Flooding and the shallow root system of the gigantic tree are most likely to be the reasons for why the tree fell.

The Pioneer Cabin Tree

The Tunnel Tree had been among the most popular sites of the state park ever since the late 19th century.

Also known as the Pioneer Cabin Tree, it got its name for its distinctive hollow trunk, partially burnt after a forest fire. It had small compartments much like in a log cabin, burnt core as a chimney, and a small opening as a backdoor.

During the 1870s, its compartments were fused into a tunnel so that tourists could pass through it.

This particular tree was selected as it already had large forest fire scars. However, this enabled the tree to compete for attention with the Yosemite’s Wawona Tree and to attract more tourists to the park.

A stereoscope image of the Pioneer Cabin with people and horse passing through it (c. 1867–1899)

Since the 1880s, park visitors were encouraged to inscribe their names into the tree, but the practice was stopped during the 1930s in order to preserve it.

The trail through the tree was initially for pedestrians only. Later on, automobiles could also drive through as part of the “Big Trees Trail.”

It was one of the few “drive-through” trees within the area of California. The trail was kept open to hikers only afterwards.

A report by the United States Forest Service, as of 1900, suggests that the tree was 85 meters tall. Bearing in mind its glorious past, it really is like the end of an epoch.

Long-lost Maya capital discovered in a backyard in Mexico

Long-lost Maya capital discovered in a backyard in Mexico

Archaeologists claim that they discovered the long-lost capital of an ancient Maya kingdom on the Mexico-Guatemalan border.

Schroder (left) and Scherer (right) excavate in the ancient city’s ballcourt. (Charles Golden)

In what is now Chiapas, Mexico, the Sak Tz’i Kingdom has 5,000-10,000 inhabitants from around 750 BCE by 900 AD, an associate professor of anthropology at Brandeis University, Charles Golden, said to LiveScience.

Golden said the empire was not particularly powerful and was surrounded by some of the superpowers of the day. He said that in inscriptions found in other cities, the Sak Tz’i’ kingdom was frequently mentioned.

“The reason we know about the kingdom from the inscriptions is that they get beat up by all these superpowers, their rulers are taken captive, they’re fighting wars, but they’re also negotiating alliances with those superpowers at the same time,” he said.

The downtown area was about a third of a mile long and a quarter-mile wide (600 meters by 400 meters) and had pyramids, a royal palace, a ball court and a number of houses.

“These are not big empires. They’re small city-states trying to carve out their little, little territories,” Golden said.

Golden and Brown University bioarchaeologist Andrew Scherer is leading the team that has been excavating the site since 2018. They published their findings in the Journal of Field Archaeology.

Golden said they found out about the site after graduate student Whittaker Schroder got a tip from a street food vendor, who introduced him to the rancher who owned the property.

The rancher had a stone tablet that had an inscription and a drawing of a Sak Tz’i’ king dressed as the Maya storm god.

Researchers made a drawing, left, and 3d model of the stone tablet.

Golden said the site had been raided by looters in 1960s and many of its monuments were stolen. The owner found the stone tablet in some rubble while working to protect what is left of the site.

“He found it by accident. There’s a lucky, lucky rescued object the looters had missed,” Golden said.

Golden said the looters used saws and other heavy equipment to cut the off faces of the monuments. The pieces wound up in museums and private collections around the world.

“When you go to the museum and see these objects, you’re seeing something that’s been really butchered from its original piece of stone, so we would try to reconnect it to the original piece of stone that may still be on on-site,” he said.

He said it’s taken years to build trust in the community and get permission to dig at the site.

“We are both excavating to find out how people lived and more about how they built these places, but we also have to conserve these buildings,” Golden said. “They were damaged by looters and we’ll be working with the landowner to stabilize and keep these buildings from further deterioration.”

He said he hopes the discovery will help them learn how these smaller kingdoms and their citizens lived their lives and negotiated to live between their powerful, feuding neighbours.

This tiny skull has big implications for the largest dinosaurs

Fossil of young long-necked dinosaur found—and nicknamed Andrew

In what is now Montana, some 150 million years ago, a young dinosaur roamed through a land before (modern) time. Not yet five years old, the long-necked creature somehow ended up buried in a violent, muddy flood, forever freezing it in adolescence.

The fossil skull of the young diplodocus (CMC VP14128), nicknamed “Andrew” and held by palaeontologist D. Cary Woodruff. (John P. Wilson)

Now, researchers have freed this potentially record-setting dinosaur from its stony slumber. After uncovering the remains, the scientists published a study in Scientific Reports, in which they argue that the skull is the smallest yet found from a group of long-necked dinosaurs called diplodocids.

The little fellow even has a nickname: Andrew, after the steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who funded palaeontology research and has a diplodocid species named after him

With its skull just 10 inches across, researchers’ best guess is that Andrew was a juvenile Diplodocus—an especially rare find. While more than a hundred Diplodocus specimens have been discovered, their skulls are much rarer. Fewer than a dozen have been dug up to date. If the researchers’ reconstruction is correct, Andrew’s skull could be the smallest and least mature Diplodocus skull ever found, potentially providing insights into the dinosaur’s development.

“The smallest Diplodocus skull could tell us a lot about how Diplodocus grew up,” says palaeontologist D. Cary Woodruff, a PhD student at the University of Toronto and the study’s lead author.

‘Free rein at the salad bar’

Andrew hails from Montana’s Mother’s Day Quarry, a bone bed that contains at least sixteen juvenile dinosaurs, their bones are strewn about like a game of pick-up-sticks.

The remains are buried in pebble-flecked mud, suggesting that a flood may have overwhelmed a herd of young diplodocids. Due to the angles at which the bones were stuck in the muck, researchers think that other dinosaurs later trampled the bodies.

Andrew emerged from these rocks in 2010 during an excavation led by study coauthor and Cincinnati Museum Center palaeontologist Glenn Storrs. Storrs then reached out to Woodruff to give the fossil a closer look.

To Woodruff, the skull seemed to belong to a Diplodocus, though its features differed greatly from those of mature individuals. For one, Andrew had 13 teeth in its lower jaw, some of which had spoon-like edges to slice through rough vegetation. In contrast, only 11 peg-like teeth, good for nabbing softer vegetation, occupied the lower jaws of Diplodocus adults. Second, Andrew’s snout was narrow like a deer’s, whereas Diplodocus adults had broader snouts, more like a cow’s.

Woodruff thinks these differences tell the story of a shifting diet as the dinosaurs matured, echoing a 2010 study of a different Diplodocus juvenile skull.

Adult Diplodocus were lawnmowers, gobbling ferns and other soft plants in bulk. But young Diplodocus may have been more selective eaters, using their dental variation to nibble on the choicest parts of many different kinds of plants.

“Because they’ve got these different tooth types, it’s kind of like of a Swiss army knife in their mouth, right? They can pick and eat every plant they want to,” says Woodruff. “[They had] free rein at the salad bar.”

A puzzle with missing pieces

Kristi Curry Rogers, a palaeontologist at Macalester College in Minnesota, welcomes the new paper, but she doesn’t fully agree with its findings because of the fossil’s poor preservation. Andrew’s skull is missing parts of the cheek, palate, and lower jaw, plus the fossils are slightly squished. These hiccups make it hard to reconstruct the skull, let alone infer the dinosaur’s behaviour from it.

Mom's Phone Call Helps Uncover Oldest Long-Necked Dinosaur on Record
An illustration of the young diplodocus “Andrew” in its environment. (Andrey Atuchin) (Andrey Atuchin./Andrey Atuchin)

“The authors don’t address the deformation of the skull or the missing components of the face in any great detail, the inclusion of which could easily, and dramatically, change the interpretations,” she said in an email.

The uncertainty also muddies Andrew’s status as a member of the Diplodocus genus. When researchers tried to calculate Andrew’s place on the diplodocid family tree, its position depended on which of the dinosaur’s traits the researchers looked at.

“This is actually the part of the paper that I found the most interesting and important,” said palaeontologist Kimberley Chapelle, a PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, in an email. The confusion may simply stem from growing pains; young and old Diplodocus could have looked very different, leading to challenges in categorization.

For now, Woodruff says that Diplodocus is his best guess for Andrew’s identity, but he says that it could also be an unknown species. To help settle the debate, Andrew’s skull is currently being 3-D scanned for future research.

“[At] the end of the day, that’s science: one object, two interpretations, multiple testable hypotheses,” said Woodruff in an email. “And if we’re later proven wrong about the identity, that’s fine. Andrew still contributes to our understanding … regardless of whatever the heck it is.”

Discovery of 1,000-year-old Viking site in Canada could rewrite history

Discovery of 1,000-year-old Viking site in Canada could rewrite history

The possible discovery of a 1,000-year-old Viking site on a Canadian island could rewrite the story of the exploration of North America by Europeans before Christopher Columbus.

Where: Point Rosee, Newfoundland What: the stones appear to be the foundations of a furnace

The uncovering of stone used in ironworking on Newfoundland, hundreds of miles south from the only known Viking site in North America, suggests the Vikings may have travelled much further into the continent than previously thought. 

A group of archaeologists has been excavating the newly found site at the Point Rosee, a narrow, windswept peninsula on the most western point of the island.  

The only known Viking site to date in North America is located on the northern tip of the Canadian island of Newfoundland

To date, the only confirmed Viking site on the American continent is L’Anse aux Meadows, a 1,000-year-old way station found in 1960 on the northern tip of Newfoundland.

That settlement was abandoned after just a few years of being inhabited and archaeologists have spent the last fifty years searching for any other signs of Viking expeditions to the other side of the Atlantic. 

American archaeologist Sarah Parcak, who has utilized satellite imagery to locate lost Egyptian cities, temples and tombs, applied the similar technology to explore the island, seeking for traces of lost Viking settlements. 

She was drawn to this remote part of Canada after satellite imagery uncovered ground features that appeared to indicate human activity.

Ms Parcak looked at modern-day plant cover to discover places where a possible Viking settlement had altered the soil by changing the amount of moisture in the ground. This was the method she had previously used in Egypt. 

After identifying a potential site, archaeologists discovered a hearth-stone, which was used for iron-working, near what appeared to have been a turf wall. 

“The sagas suggest a short period of activity and a very brief and failed colonisation attempt,” Douglas Bolender, an excavator specialising in Norse settlements, told National Geographic magazine.

“L’Anse aux Meadows fits well with that story however is only one site. Point Rosee could reinforce that story or completely change it if the dating is different from L’Anse aux Meadows.

We could end up with a much longer period of Norse activity in the New World.

“A site like Point Rosee has the potential to reveal what that initial wave of Norse colonization looked like, not only for New foundland but for the rest of the North Atlantic.” 

But there is not enough evidence for archaeologists to prove the Vikings settled on the site, as other populations also lived on Newfoundland after them. 

If the site is confirmed as a legitimate Viking settlement, this could lead to further search for other settlements, built 5 centuries before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. 

Man Discovers Mysterious ‘Face’ On Canada Cliffside After 2-Year Search

Man Discovers Mysterious ‘Face’ On Canada Cliffside After 2-Year Search

According to Parks Canada, a man from whom he has searched for the face for over two years recently rediscovered a mysterious large face on the cliff of one Island inside the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Hank Gus from the First Nation of Tseshaht, an Aboriginal tribe in the area, learnt about the face of the rocks in Reeks Island, part of Broken Group Islands for the first time.

2 years ago, when someone told him a kayaking tourist spotted the face in 2008, said Parks Canada First Nations program manager Matthew Payne. He added that Gus was not able to find the face until just a few weeks ago.

The strange face was spotted on Reeks Island in British Columbia, Canada

“Gus and some Tseshaht beach keepers recently discovered it a few weeks ago, and they were very excited to share it with us and the archaeologist we work with,” Payne told ABC News today. “We went out to see it recently, and it’s remarkable. It really is a face staring back at you.”

The face, believed to be about 7 feet tall, is similar to a wooden carving on the door of the Tseshaht administration office, Payne said.

“The Tseshaht has lived in the area for thousands of years, so we’re working with the First Nations to find out if there are any oral histories the face could link back to,” he added.

Now the Tseshaht First Nation and Parks Canada are trying to figure out if the face is a man-made or natural marvel, he said.

“Mother Nature is capable of creating all sorts of amazing things, though the face is very striking,” Payne said. “But we still can’t definitively say if the face is man made or not.”

Though the Tseshaht and Parks Canada would like to examine the face up close, the face’s cliff is treacherous, he said.

“The island has a rocky shoreline with lots of hidden rocks, and it can be dangerous, depending on sea conditions,” he said. “You need to know what you’re doing to go and look at it.”

The Tseshaht First Nation did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional information.

Extraordinary Carving Discovered Inside Ancient Maya Pyramid

Extraordinary Carving Discovered Inside Ancient Maya Pyramid

An enormous stone design by the ancient Mayan civilization that has persisted for centuries locked within a pyramid in Guatemala shows a battle of superpowers in 6th Century Central America, archaeologists have said.

The massive frieze with inscriptions and the vividly coloured painting was found at the Holmul archaeological excavation at a dig in the northeast Peten region of the country. Archaeologists claim that the evidence indicates that the region’s rulers were embroiled in a political clash of the titans between the kings of Kaanul – the Snake Kingdom – and the kings of Tikal.

The frieze, which is eight metres wide and two metres tall and stands along the exterior of a multi-roomed rectangular building, was found in a 20-metre high pyramid built in the 8th Century, in a style typical of the Maya. Much of the building still remains encased under the rubble of the later 20m-high structure. The carving is painted in red, with details in blue, green and yellow.

Francisco Estrada-Belli, director of the Holmul Archaeological Project that made the discovery, said: ‘This is a unique find. It is a beautiful work of art and it tells us so much about the function and meaning of the building, which was what we were looking for.’

The carving depicts human figures in a mythological setting, suggesting they may be deified rulers. It shows three human figures wearing elaborate bird headdresses and jade jewels seated cross-legged over the head of a mountain spirit known as a witz.

A cartouche on the headdress contains glyphs identifying each individual by name. The central figure’s name is the only one that is legible but the inscription says Och Chan Yopaat, meaning ‘the storm god enters the sky.’

Two feathered serpents emerge from the mountain spirit below the main character and form an arch with their bodies. Under each of them is a seated figure of an aged god holding a sign that reads ‘the first tamale.’

The carving is so well-preserved that many of its original colors remain.
Illustration for article titled Extraordinary Carving Discovered Inside Ancient Maya Pyramid

In front of the serpents’ mouths are the two additional human figures, also seated on mountain spirit heads. At the bottom of the carving, there are bands of glyphs that reveal the grand frieze was commissioned by the ruler of Naranjo – a superpower kingdom south of Holmul.

In the dedication, king Ajwosaj Chan K’inich claims to have restored the local ruling line and patron deities. The images and glyphic text on the frieze also provide information about political actors in the Maya Lowlands well beyond this small kingdom.

The writing says the ruler, was also referred to as a ‘vassal of the Kaanul king’ the snake lord.

‘When this building was erected, Kanul kings were already on their way to controlling much of the lowlands, except Tikal of course,’ said Estrada-Belli.

Mr Estrada-Belli told NBC News: ‘It’s all a grand scheme of building a Maya empire. Sometimes the Kaanul kings were on top. Sometimes Tikal was on top. But there was nothing chaotic about it.’

At the bottom of the carving there are bands of glyphs (pictured) that reveal the grand frieze was commissioned by the ruler of Naranjo – a superpower kingdom south of Holmul. In the dedication, king Ajwosaj Chan K¿inich claims to have restored the local ruling line and patron deities

According to Alex Tokovinine, a Harvard University Maya epigrapher who worked on the project, the text places the building in the decade of the 590s and provides the first glimpse of the remarkable extent of Ajwosaj’s political and religious authority.

‘It also reveals how a new order was literally imprinted on a broader landscape of local gods and ancestors,’ she said.

At the time, the Tikal kings had established new dynasties and far-reaching alliances with kingdoms throughout the Maya Lowlands, perhaps thanks to a connection with Mesoamerica’s greatest state, Teotihuacan.

Tikal suffered a defeat in the year 562 by the Kanul ‘Snake’ kingdom, which, for the following 180 years, would come to dominate most other Lowland kingdoms. The find came as the team excavated in a tunnel left open by looters. The archaeologists unearthed a tomb associated with the pyramid last year containing an individual accompanied by 28 ceramic vessels and a wooden funerary mask.

It was found in a cavity dug into the stairway leading up to the building and the skeleton of an adult male and his ceramic offering were preserved by large limestone slabs that kept the tomb free of debris.

Intriguingly his incisor and canine teeth had been drilled and filled with jade beads, while two miniature flower-shaped ear spools were also found. The archaeologists said the iconography on the vessels discovered in the tomb bore clear references to the nine lords of the underworld as well as to the aged sun god of the underworld.

There were two sets of nine painted bowls decorated with the water lily motif and nine red-painted plates and one spouted tripod plate decorated with the image of the god of the underworld emerging from a shell.  Because of the unusually high number of vessels and the jade dental decorations, Mr Estrada-Belli believes the individual found may have been a member of the ruling class at Holmul.