Category Archives: U.S.A

Traces of Native American Village Found in Florida

Traces of Native American Village Found in Florida

An archaeological bonanza is being unearthed in St. Augustine. This dig is revealing that a Native American village could be bigger — or at least in a different place — than previously imagined. 

That same site would later become one of the state’s first commercial orange groves. Some people may be familiar with the site on Bridge Street, where an old blue house stands crumbling and vegetation has taken over. 

However, in the last few months, the house has been sold and is being restored. 

According to a First Coast News report, St. Augustine city archaeologist Andrea White and her colleagues have found pottery and postholes from Palica, a Native American village, under a nineteenth-century house in St. Augustine’s Lincolnville neighbourhood.

What most people these days don’t see are the archaeologists on the site. They’ve been working in the backyard and even under the house. 

“It’s one of the first opportunities any archaeologists have had to work at this location,” said Andrea White, St. Augustine City Archaeologist.

She and St. Augustine Research and Collections Archaeologist Katherine Sims, along with some archaeology volunteers, have been carefully studying the site.

The house restoration and archaeological dig are revealing some surprises. One of those surprises is the mission site of the Native American village called Palica.

“It was only mapped once,” Sims said. 

That was in the 1700s. 

Later, archaeologists compiled maps and thought Palica was elsewhere in St. Augustine’s Lincolnville neighbourhood.

“When we started this project, we didn’t anticipate finding deposits from Palica on this property,” Sims said. “Once we started work, we immediately realized there is definitely Palica material here! Yes, it was a huge surprise.”

Before the house was built, Native Americans lived here on a Catholic mission site in the early 1700s. Archaeologists have found pottery, but the big find was under the floor of the house where archaeologists found post holes. 

Those are basically evidence of a Native American building, and that’s a big deal.

“These all date to Palica,” White said. “We are 100 per cent confident about the age of these. We’re really excited!”

Archaeologists believe the Palica mission was abandoned in the mid-1700s and 50 to 100 years later, the first part of this house was built. It was part of the Yallaha plantation which was one of Florida’s first commercial orange groves.

Some of the original structure is still part of the house. That original portion date to the early 1800s. The house is being restored, but old parts are being salvaged such as roof shingles that are stamped “Florida” on the underside from the 1800s.

Because the house was built a couple of feet above the ground, the house became a protector of the archaeological artefacts on the ground.

“What’s great about a historic structure is that normally people don’t’ go built something under a house, so it helps preserve everything,” White said.

That includes another surprise under the floor. Archaeologists found a donkey burial, estimated to be from the late 1700s before the house was built.

Laid with respect, not just tossed into the ground, it’s easy to think the animal was possibly someone’s hard-working farm animal during the land’s agricultural time period. 

And so this house and this land are still relinquishing secrets about a story hundreds of years old.

Eerie ‘yellow brick road’ to Atlantis was discovered atop an ancient undersea mountain

Eerie ‘yellow brick road’ to Atlantis was discovered atop an ancient undersea mountain

A team of marine biologists realized they definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore after discovering what appeared to be a yellow brick road on top of an undersea mountain near Hawaii.

“The yellow brick road?” a scientist mused in a YouTube video of the discovery.

Others remarked that the rocks were reminiscent of a very different fictional world: “It’s the road to Atlantis,” one researcher said. 

The yellow rocks, divided from each other at neat 90-degree angles, form a narrow strip and look like they were carved and arranged by human hands.  However, the seemingly paved roadway was simply the natural result of ancient volcanic activity thousands of feet below the water’s surface, the researchers said in a description below the video.

“At the summit of Nootka Seamount, the team spotted a ‘dried lake bed’ formation, now IDed as a fractured flow of hyaloclastite rock (a volcanic rock formed in high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments settle to the seabed),” the researchers wrote.

Eerie 'yellow brick road' to Atlantis was discovered atop an ancient undersea mountain

The remarkably brick-like divisions between the rocks are likely the coincidental result of heating and cooling stresses from multiple volcanic eruptions over millions of years, the team added.

The researchers took a detour down this eerie undersea road while piloting a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) around the Papahānaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a protected conservation area encompassing about 582,578 square miles (1,508,870 square kilometres) of the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii.

The expedition is part of the Ocean Exploration Trust’s Nautilus Exploration Program and aims to investigate the ancient seamounts near Liliʻuokalani Ridge, at the monument’s western edge.

One of the team’s main goals is to collect geological samples from the area’s seamounts — underwater mountains formed by volcanic activity — to better understand their ages and origins.

Learning this may also yield new insights into the formation of the Hawaiian Islands, the researchers wrote on the Nautilus website. The team will also collect microbial samples, to study what kinds of oddball organisms have managed to thrive near the deep, underwater volcanoes of the Pacific.

“Our exploration of this never-before-surveyed area is helping researchers take a deeper look at life on and within the rocky slopes of these deep, ancient seamounts,” the researchers added.

Previous expeditions aboard the Nautilus research vessel have turned up plenty of unnerving marine oddities. During a 2018 excursion to the Papahānaumokuakea Marine National Monument, researchers were dumbfounded by a wriggling, googly-eyed creature that seemed to change shape while in front of the camera.

Researchers later identified the creature as a gulper eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides), an incredibly big-mouthed fish that can unhinge its massive jaw to swallow prey even larger than itself.

The researchers controlling the ROV during that expedition also responded to the strange sight before them with a cultural reference.

“Looks like a Muppet,” one researcher said.

36,000-year-old Meat of a Mummified Bison was used for a Stew

36,000-year-old Meat of a Mummified Bison was used for a Stew

One Night in 1984,  A handful of lucky guests gathered at the Alaska home of palaeontologist Dale Guthrie to eat stew crafted from a once-in-a-lifetime delicacy: the neck meat of an ancient, recently-discovered bison nicknamed Blue Babe.

The dinner party fit Alaska tradition: Since state law bans the buying, bartering, and selling of game meats, you can’t find local favourites such as caribou stew at restaurants. Those dishes are enjoyed when hunters host a gathering. But their meat source is usually the moose population—not a preserved piece of biological history.

Blue Babe had been discovered just five years earlier by gold miners, who noticed that a hydraulic mining hose melted part of the gunk that had kept the bison frozen. They reported their findings to the nearby University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Concerned that it would decompose, Guthrie—then a professor and researcher at the university—opted to dig out Blue Babe immediately. But the icy, impenetrable surroundings made that challenging. So he cut off what he could, refroze it, and waited for the head and neck to thaw.

Archaeology curator Josh Reuther and University of Arizona’s François B. Lanoë draw a sample from Blue Babe for the ongoing redating project.

Soon, Guthrie and his team had Blue Babe on campus and started learning more about the ancient animal. They knew that it had perished about 36,000 years ago, thanks to radiocarbon dating. (Though new research shows that Blue Babe is at least 50,000 years old, according to the university’s Curator of Archaeology, Josh Reuther.) Tooth marks and claw marks also suggested that the bison was killed by an ancestor of the lion, the Panthera leoatrox.

Blue Babe froze rapidly following its death—perhaps the result of a wintertime demise. Researchers were amazed to find that Blue Babe had frozen so well that its muscle tissue retained a texture, not unlike beef jerky. Its fatty skin and bone marrow remained intact, too, even after thousands of years. So why not try eating part of it?

It had been done before. “All of us working on this thing had heard the tales of the Russians [who] excavated things like bison and mammoth in the Far North [that] were frozen enough to eat,” Guthrie says of several infamous meals. “So we decided, ‘You know what we can do? Make a meal using this bison.’”

Guthrie decided to host the special dinner when taxidermist Eirik Granqvist completed his work on Blue Babe and the late Björn Kurtén was in town to give a guest lecture. “Making neck steak didn’t sound like a very good idea,” Guthrie recalls. “But you know, what we could do is put a lot of vegetables and spices, and it wouldn’t be too bad.”

Eirik Granqvist working on the taxidermy of Blue Babe.

To make the stew for roughly eight people, Guthrie cut off a small part of the bison’s neck, where the meat had frozen while fresh. “When it thawed, it gave off an unmistakable beef aroma, not unpleasantly mixed with a faint smell of the earth in which it was found, with a touch of mushroom,” he once wrote.

They then added a generous amount of garlic and onions, along with carrots and potatoes, to the aged meat. Couple that with wine, and it became a full-fledged dinner.

Guthrie, who is a hunter, says he wasn’t deterred by the thousands of years the bison had aged, nor the prospect of getting sick. “That would take a very special kind of microorganism [to make me sick],” he says. “And I eat frozen meat all the time, of animals that I kill or my neighbours kill. And they do get kind of old after three years in the freezer.”

Blue Babe is on display at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

Thankfully, everyone present lived to tell the tale (and the bison remains on display at the University of Alaska Museum of the North). The Blue Babe stew wasn’t unpalatable, either, according to Guthrie. “It tasted a little bit like what I would have expected, with a little bit of wringing of mud,” he says. “But it wasn’t that bad. Not so bad that we couldn’t each have a bowl.” He can’t remember if anyone present had seconds, though.

Dinosaur tracks revealed in Texas as severe drought dries up the river

Dinosaur tracks revealed in Texas as severe drought dries up the river

Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas has unearthed an exciting discovery after extreme drought conditions dried up a river – giant dinosaur footprints that date back to 113 million years ago.

The tracks were uncovered in the Paluxy River as its water level receded due to the major drought that has parched parts of northern Texas this summer, the park announced last week. The park is located near Glen Rose, southwest of Dallas.

“Due to the excessive drought conditions this past summer, the river dried up completely in most locations, allowing for more tracks to be uncovered here in the park,” the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.

“Under normal river conditions, these newer tracks are underwater and are commonly filled in with sediment, making them buried and not as visible.”

Most dinosaur tracks at the park belong to two different species: a theropod called Acrocanthosaurus and a sauropod called Sauroposeidon, according to the park.

The park said that the tracks will likely get buried under sediment and water once it begins to rain.

The newly unearthed footprints in the river belong to the Acrocanthosaurus, what officials described as a dinosaur that stood about 15 feet tall and weighed close to seven tons as an adult. 

Meanwhile, they said an adult Sauroposeidon stood about 60 feet tall and weighed about 44 tons.

The park shared photos online showing volunteers helping to clean out and shore up the dino tracks.

The park said the tracks belong to the Acrocanthosaurus and date back to 113 million years ago.

However, with rain in the coming forecasts, the parks said it is likely the prehistoric tracks will soon be buried again beneath the river water.

On Monday, residents of north Texas woke up to flash flooding brought on by as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas. 

The park said that the layers of sediment that will once again cover the footprints will help to protect the tracks from natural weathering and erosion.

“While these newer dinosaur tracks were visible for a brief amount of time, it brought the wonder and excitement about finding new dinosaur tracks at the park,” the state parks department said.

Earthen Mound in Louisiana Dated to 11,000 Years Ago

Earthen Mound in Louisiana Dated to 11,000 Years Ago

New research reveals more information about the Louisiana State University (LSU) Campus Mounds, including the discovery of thousands of years old charred mammal bone fragments and a coordinated alignment of both mounds toward one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Earthen Mound in Louisiana Dated to 11,000 Years Ago
The Louisiana State University (LSU) Campus Mounds pictured here are the oldest known man-made structures in North America.

This new information offers more insight into the oldest known man-made structures in North America.

The two large, grassy mounds that are about 20 feet tall, on LSU’s campus, are among the more than 800 man-made, hill-like mounds in Louisiana, built by ancient indigenous people. While many mounds in the region have been destroyed, the LSU Campus Mounds have been preserved and are listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

“There’s nothing known that is man-made and this old still in existence today in North America, except the mounds,” said LSU Department of Geology & Geophysics Professor Emeritus Brooks Ellwood, who led this study, published in the American Journal of Science by Yale University.

He and colleagues collected sediment cores from the two mounds that are located on LSU’s campus along Dalrymple Drive to learn more about them. The cores revealed layers of ash from burned reed and cane plants, as well as the burned osteons.

Radiocarbon dating of the layers of material indicates the mounds were built over thousands of years. These findings show that people began to build the first mound about 11,000 years ago.

The scientists think that sediment for the southern mound, which they’ve named “Mound B,” was taken from a location immediately behind LSU’s Hill Memorial Library because there is a large depression in the ground there. The mound was built up over a few thousand years, layer by layer, to about half of its current height.

The layers of ash and charred microscopic bone fragments may indicate the mound was used for ceremonial purposes, which included burning reed and cane plants to make large, hot fires that would have been too hot for cooking.

The scientists do not know what type of mammals were cremated or why. However, they found many microscopic, charred bone fragments, known as osteons, the building blocks of large mammal bones, in the ash beds in both LSU Campus Mounds.

Then, around 8,200 years ago, the southern Mound B was abandoned. Tree roots found in the 8,200-year-old sediment layer indicate that the mound was not used for about 1,000 years.

Also around 8,200 years ago, the northern hemisphere experienced a major climate event with temperatures suddenly dropping on average by about 35 degrees Fahrenheit, which lasted about 160 years.

“We don’t know why they abandoned the mounds around 8,200 years ago, but we do know their environment changed suddenly and dramatically, which may have affected many aspects of their daily life,” Ellwood said.

Then, around 7,500 years ago, the indigenous people began to build a new mound just to the north of the first mound. However, this time, they took mud from the floodplain where the entrance to LSU’s Tiger Stadium is currently located, which at that time was an estuary. With this mud, they built the second mound, “Mound A,” layer by layer, to about half of its current height.

Mound A contains mud that is saturated with water, which liquefies when agitated. As a result, Mound A is unstable and degrading, which is why it is critical to stay off the mounds to preserve them.

According to the new analyses of the sediment layers and their ages, it looks like indigenous people cleared the abandoned first-built Mound B and began to build it up to its current height before completing Mound A.

Both mounds were completed around 6,000 years ago and are similar in height.

The crests of both mounds are aligned along an azimuth that is about 8.5 degrees east of true north.

According to LSU astronomer and study coauthor Geoffrey Clayton, about 6,000 years ago, the red giant star Arcturus would rise about 8.5 degrees east of north in the night sky, which means it would have aligned along the crests of both LSU Campus Mounds. Arcturus is one of the brightest stars that can be seen from Earth.

“The people who constructed the mounds, at about 6,000 years ago, coordinated the structures’ orientation to align with Arcturus, seen in the night sky at that time,” Ellwood said.

Still, there is more to learn and discover about these archaeological treasures on LSU’s campus.

Ice Age human footprints found in Utah desert, thanks to a chance glance out of a moving car: “Lost oasis”

Ice Age human footprints found in Utah desert, thanks to a chance glance out of a moving car: “Lost oasis”

In total, 88 footprints were discovered, including both adult and child footprints. These footprints provide insight into family life during the Pleistocene.

Cornell researcher Thomas Urban discovered footprints on the salt flats of the Utah Testing and Training Range (UTTR) believed to date from the end of the last ice age.

A footprint discovered on an archaeological site is marked with a pin flag on the Utah Test and Training Range, July 18, 2022.

During a trip to UTTR, Urban and Daron Duke of Far Western Anthropological Research Group noticed what Urban thought were “ghost tracks” – tracks that can appear for a short period and then disappear when moisture conditions are right.

When Urban stopped to look, he recognized what was familiar to him: unshod human footprints, similar to those in White Sands National Park, considered the oldest known human footprints in the Americas.

“It was a truly serendipitous find,” said Urban, a research scientist in the College of Arts and Sciences and with the Cornell Tree Ring Laboratory.

A ground-penetrating radar survey of one of the two visible trackways was conducted by Urban the day after they returned to the site. He quickly identified what was hidden from his previous experience applying geophysical methods at White Sands, including radar.

Urban explained that the ghost tracks visible at White Sands were only part of the story. “Radar detected several additional invisible prints.”

During Duke’s excavations, he confirmed that the prints were made barefoot and that there were additional prints that had not been seen.

In total, 88 footprints were discovered, including both adult and child footprints. These footprints provide insight into family life during the Pleistocene period.

A press release from the Air Force reported that excavations of several prints showed evidence of adults leaving bare footprints with children between the ages of five and 12 years old.

“People appear to have been walking in shallow water, the sand rapidly infilling their print behind them – much as you might experience on a beach – but under the sand was a layer of mud that kept the print intact after infilling.”

Duke said the prints are likely older than 12,000 years, as there haven’t been wetland conditions in this remote area of the Great Salt Lake desert for at least 10,000 years.

To confirm the discovery, further research is being conducted.

Anya Kitterman, the Air Force Cultural Resource Manager for the area, said, “We found so much more than we bargained for.”

In the UTTR, Urban found two open-air hearths from the Ice Age dating back to the end of the Ice Age at the request of Duke. One of these hearth sites contained the earliest evidence of tobacco use by humans. The recently discovered footprints were about a half-mile away from those hearths.

According to Urban, the site is important on a broader scale. “We have long wondered whether other sites like White Sands were out there and whether ground-penetrating radar would be effective for imaging footprints at locations other than White Sands since it was a very novel application of the technology,” he said. “The answer to both questions is ‘yes.’”

While the Utah site is not as old and may not be as extensive as White Sands, Urban said there might be much more to be found.

A sleeve button set from the 1780s discovered at Colonial Michilimackinac

A sleeve button set from the 1780s discovered at Colonial Michilimackinac

A set of joined sleeve buttons, believed to be from the 1780s, was recently discovered on Colonial Michilimackinac.

Sleeve button

According to a press release from Mackinac State Historic Parks, archaeologists continue to uncover incredible artefacts late into the 2022 archaeological field season.

“We are still finding interesting artifacts,” said Dr. Lynn Evans, Mackinac State Historic Parks Curator of Archaeology, in a press release.

“This set of joined sleeve buttons, like a modern cufflink, was found in the 1781 demolition rubble layer.

The green glass paste ‘stones’ are set in brass.”

The current excavation site is House E of the Southeast Rowhouse at Colonial Michilimackinac.

The house, according to Mackinac State Historic Parks, was first occupied by Charles Henri Desjardins de Rupallay de Gonneville.

Other finds this season have included a red earthenware bowl, a one-ounce brass weight marked with a crown over GR, for the king, a second brass weight from a set of nesting apothecary weights, stamped with a fleur-de-lis, and a King’s 8th button.

The dig at Michilimackinac began back in 1959; it’s reportedly one of the longest-running archaeology programs in North America.

U.S. Repatriates Looted Artifacts to Cambodia

U.S. Repatriates Looted Artifacts to Cambodia

(This August story corrects the 6th paragraph to state that Douglas Latchford was a dual citizen of Thailand and the United Kingdom, not Thailand and the United States)

The United States will return to Cambodia 30 looted antiquities, including bronze and stone statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities carved more than 1,000 years ago, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The Southeast Asian country’s archaeological sites – including Koh Ker, the capital of the ancient Khmer empire – suffered widespread looting in civil conflicts between the 1960s and 1990s.

Cambodia’s government has since sought to repatriate stolen antiquities sold on the international market.

Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said the items being returned were sold to Western buyers by Douglas Latchford, a Bangkok dealer who created fake documents to conceal that the items had been looted and smuggled.

Williams said the antiquities, including a 10th-century sandstone statue depicting the Hindu god of war Skanda riding on a peacock, were voluntarily relinquished by U.S. museums and private collectors after his office filed civil forfeiture claims.

U.S. Repatriates Looted Artifacts to Cambodia
Seized items are displayed during an announcement of the repatriation and return to Cambodia of 30 Cambodian antiquities sold to U.S. collectors and institutions by Douglas Latchford and seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 8, 2022.
A person looks at a seized 10th Century Khmer sandstone statue of Skanda on a Peacock following an announcement of the repatriation and return to Cambodia of 30 Cambodian antiquities sold to U.S. collectors and institutions by Douglas Latchford and seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 8, 2022.
A 10th-century Koh Ker-style sandstone sculpture of a Yaksha is prepared ahead of an announcement of the repatriation and return to Cambodia of 30 Cambodian antiquities sold to U.S. collectors and institutions by Douglas Latchford and seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 8, 2022.
Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. State Department delivers remarks as he stands with seized items during an announcement of the repatriation and return to Cambodia of 30 Cambodian antiquities sold to U.S. collectors and institutions by Douglas Latchford and seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 8, 2022.

“These statues and artefacts… are of extraordinary cultural value to the Cambodian people,” Williams said at a ceremony in Manhattan announcing the return of the antiquities.

U.S. prosecutors in 2019 charged Latchford, a dual citizen of Thailand and the United Kingdom, with wire fraud and smuggling over the alleged looting. He died in Thailand in 2020.

The antiquities will be displayed at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s U.S. ambassador Keo Chhea told Reuters at the ceremony.

In 2014, federal prosecutors returned the Duryodhana, a looted 10th-century sandstone sculpture, to Cambodia after settling with auction house Sotheby’s Inc, which had acquired it.

Last year, the Manhattan district attorney’s office returned 27 looted antiquities to Cambodia.