An 18th-century serpent sideplate was uncovered by archeologists from a British trade weapon at a historic fort in Mackinaw City.
The nearly 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long piece was found last Tuesday in Fort Michilimackinac. It’s believed to date back to the 1770s.
Lynn Evans, the curator of archaeology at Mackinac State Historic Parks, said only four gun parts have been found in that particular location in 12 years.
“All of a sudden, here’s something we haven’t been finding,” Evans said.
Fort Michilimackinac is a reconstructed 18th-century for a trading village on the Straits of Mackinac. Over the centuries, the area was home to Native Americans, the French and the British.
The finding is part of a long-running archaeological program at the park.
Excavations take place seven days a week for 12 weeks in the summer, giving visitors a chance to watch archaeology in action and ask the archaeologists questions, too.
This year marks the archaeological dig’s 60th anniversary, making it one of North America’s longest-running archaeology programs.
“It’s an unusual opportunity, and I think it’s great you can do it right here in Michigan,” Evans said.
The serpent sideplate will be taken to a lab to be washed, examined and labeled.
Over the coming winter, the sideplate and other items found during this summer’s dig will be cataloged and put into storage for future use by researchers or in exhibits, either at the fort or by loan to other institutions.
In addition to the serpent, 2019 discoveries have included a silver trade brooch, a door hinge and a large piece of feather creamware.
Evans said discoveries paint a richer picture of what life was like at the fort.
“We have a lot of documents about the fort, but we don’t have a lot of diaries,” Evans said. “What we find is not gonna change history, but it gives us such a better understanding of daily life here.”
Meet “Stuckie” — The Mummified Dog Who Has Been Stuck In A Tree For Over 50 Years
Loggers expect to come across some things when they cut down trees. Bird’s nests and things stuck in the branches seem like a given – a mummified dog in the center of a tree, however, does not.
But that’s exactly what a team of loggers with the Georgia Kraft Corp. found while cutting down a tree in the 1980s.
The loggers were working on a grove of chestnut oaks in southern Georgia when they found a most unusual sight.
After cutting off the top of the tree, and loading it onto a truck for transport, a member of the team happened to peer down the hollow trunk.
Inside, he found the perfectly mummified remains of a dog, looking back at him, its teeth still bared in a fight for survival.
Experts who studied the carcass concluded that the pup was most likely a hunting dog from the 1960s, who had chased something such as a squirrel through a hole in the roots, and up the center of the hollow tree.
The higher the dog got, however, the narrower the tree became. From the position of the dog’s paws, experts believe that it continued to climb until it effectively wedged itself in. Unable to turn around, the dog died.
Due to a perfect set of circumstances, however, though it was dead, it was not forgotten.
Normally, a dog that had died in the wild would succumb to decay and be eaten by other foragers.
However, as the dog had died inside a tree, it was unlikely that other animals could reach it – and, due to the height of the body, it was unlikely that other animals could smell it either.
Additionally, the kind of tree that the dog had lodged itself in was uniquely qualified to lend itself to the natural mummification process.
Chestnut oaks contain tannins, which are used in taxidermy and tanning to treat animal pelts so that they don’t decay. The tannins from the inside of the tree seeped out into the dog and prevented it from rotting inside.
The dry environment inside the trunk also provided shelter from the elements and sucked the moisture from the carcass. The air that was sucked into the tree through the base created a sort of vacuum effect, further contributing to the drying process.
After finding the mummified pup, the loggers decided to take it to a museum, to show off the rare sight to the world.
The dog, now affectionately called “Stuckie,” resides at the Southern Forest World museum, still encased in his woody tomb, and on display for the world to see.
Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan
U.S. border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Mich., to Sarnia, Ont.
Five containers containing the artifacts were seized on May 25 following the selection of the truck for examination in Michigan near Sarnia, Ont., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
The artifacts had come from Canada in a bulk mail shipment, and were being shipped to a home in the United States, Kris Grogan, spokesman for the agency, said in an interview.
“It’s taken some time to identify what they were,” Grogan said. “We’ve had to work with the State Department as well as other federal agencies in identifying this.”
The artifacts would be sent back to Egypt in the near future, Grogan said.
In a statement, the agency said the importer was unable to prove the linens had been taken out of Egypt before 2016.
That could be a violation of the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, a federal law that allows American authorities to impose import restrictions on certain classes of archeological material.
Authorities said they worked with an unidentified archeological organization to pin down the age of the artifacts, which are believed to date back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C.
One expert in antiquities, Sue McGovern-Huffman, said trying to illegally buy ancient artifacts is more trouble than it’s worth no matter what era the object is from.
“If it’s been illegally taken out of the country, it’s got a zero value as far as the commercial market is concerned,” McGovern-Huffman, president of Sands of Time Antiquities, said from Washington, D.C.
Without an artifact’s provenance or proof of ownership and history, even illegally selling ancient artifacts would be difficult for any dealer on the black market, she said.
McGovern-Huffman, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, said pieces like ancient mummy linens have more archeological or study interest than collector interest.
“These fragments have very little value. There are all these reports of antiquities selling for millions and billions of dollars on the black market and it’s completely wrong,” she said. “You’d be lucky to get $50 for this stuff.”
Michael Fox, the customs agency director in Port Huron, Mich., said the seizure was of “historical importance.”
Grogan said no arrests have been made as it remains unclear who might be criminally responsible.
‘Extraordinary archaeological find’: Last known US slave ship found in Alabama
The last U.S. slave ship, the Clotilda, was finally located at the bottom of the Mobile River in Alabama after a lot of searching.
The announcement comes one year after the release of the lost interview with a survivor of that ship by Zora Neale Hurston, and only a month after a scholar discovered that the last survivor of Clotilda lived until 1937.
It holds special significance for the residents of Africatown, Alabama, many of whom are descended from the Africans illegally trafficked on the Clotilda in 1860.
“It’s a wonderful discovery,” says Sylviane A. Diouf, a visiting scholar at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and author of Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America.
“This is the only one so far that has been found which came directly from Africa to the Americas with people on board.” (The recently-discovered São José was on its way to Brazil but crashed in South Africa near Cape Town.)
The discovery is also significant because the Clotilda is already the most well-documented slave ship story in the Americas. “If it had only been a ship without the story, then that’s interesting,” Diouf says. “But we have the entire story.
So this is the first time that we have the entire story of what happened to the people who were on the ship and we have the ship as well.”The research initiative that found the Clotilda was partly motivated by the discovery of another ship in January 2018 that some thought might have been the Clotlida.
Afterward, the Alabama Historical Commission funded further efforts to find the Clotilda, which a slave trader had burned and then sunk to the bottom of the river to hide the evidence of its illegal journey.
Excavators ended up combing through a section of the Mobile River that had never been dredged before. Among the many sunken ships there, they found one that historians could confidently say matched the description of the Clotilda.
The more than 100 African children, teenagers and young adults on the Clotilda arrived in Alabama just one year before the Civil War.
When the U.S. officially abolished slavery in 1865, these young people had no means to travel back home, so some created a community called “African Town” in Alabama. The town helped preserve the stories of these people, some of whom carried their memories of capture and enslavement into the 20th century.
Unlike most slave ship survivors in history who remained largely undocumented, we have pictures and interviews of people who came over on the Clotilda. We even have film footage of the last known survivor, a woman born with the name “Redoshi” who went by “Sally Smith.”
When Zora Neale Hurston interviewed Cudjo Lewis, a founding member of African Town in the 1920s and ‘30s, he could still remember the disorienting trauma of being captured and enslaved at age 19.
“We doan know why we be bring ’way from our country to work lak dis,” said Lewis, originally named “Kossula.” “Everybody lookee at us strange. We want to talk wid de udder colored folkses but dey doan know whut we say.”
It’s not clear what will happen to the Clotilda’s remains, but residents of Africatown hope to highlight it in a way that draws tourism and business.
Africatown is home to a low-income community that has survived Hurricane Katrina and dangerous levels of industrial pollution, including from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
One option is to create a water memorial that people can visit, like the one commemorating the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor.“As a symbol, I think it’s crucial,” Diouf says of the discovery. “And I think for Africatown today, which is really a community that is struggling very much, it really puts Africatown on the map. And hopefully some good will come out of it.”
Toppled Trees in Florida Reveal 19th-Century Fort where 270 escaped slaves died
A post overlooking the Apalachicola River, 200 years ago, housed what historians say was North America’s largest community of freed slaves at the time.
Hurricane Michael has given archaeologists an unprecedented opportunity to study its story, a significant tale of black resistance that ended in bloodshed. The site, also known as Fort Gadsden, is about 70 miles southwest of Tallahassee in the Apalachicola National Forest near the hamlet of Sumatra.
British lived at Prospect Bluff with allied escaped slaves, called Maroons, who joined the British military in exchange for freedom, along with Seminole, Creek, Miccosukee, and Choctaw tribe members.
The Negro Fort, which was built on the site by the British during the War of 1812, became a haven for escaped slaves. Inside, 300 barrels of gunpowder were stored, and defended by both women and men. Wary of the group of armed former slaves in Spanish Florida living so close to the United States border, U.S. soldiers began to attack.
On July 27, 1816, U.S. forces led by Colonel Duncan Clinch ventured down the river and fired a single shot at the fort’s magazine. It exploded, killing 270 escaped slaves and tribes people who were inside. Those who survived were forced back into slavery.
Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which purchased it in the 1940s, the site has been preserved as a National Historic Landmark and park. Because of that, it was never excavated for artifacts, except in 1963 by Florida State University, mainly to identify structural remains.“It’s a really intriguing story. There’s so much new ground there that historians of the past never really got into,” said Dale Cox, a Jackson County-based historian.
In an ironic way, Hurricane Michael has changed that — an isolated upside of the devastating storm. The October Category 5 hurricane caused extensive damage to the site, toppling about 100 trees.
Most of the debris has been cleared, but under the remaining massive roots, archaeologists began this month to dig and sift through the soil, uncovering small artifacts and documenting archaeological features revealed by the upturned trees.
The effort is funded by a $15,000 grant awarded from the National Park Service and is in partnership with the Southeast Archaeological Center.”The easy, low-hanging fruit is European trade ware that dates to that time period.
But when you have ceramics that were made by the locals, it’s even more unique and special,” said U.S. Forest Service Archaeologist Rhonda Kimbrough. “For one thing, there’s not much of it, and we don’t have a whole lot of historical records other than the European view from what life in these Maroon communities was like.”
So far, Kimbrough and others have found bits of Seminole ceramics, shards of British black glass and gun flint and pipe smoking fragments. They’ve also located the area of a field oven, a large circular ditch that surrounds a fire pit.
The fort was recently inducted into the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.”It’s like connecting the sites, pearls on a string,” said Kimbrough, “because these sites, even though they’re spread all over the place, they’re connected by one thing, which is resistance to slavery.”
Historian Cox has been tracking down the former slaves who died at the fort and the descendants of the few who made it out alive, like Polydore, who escaped and was recaptured to work for Andrew Jackson. Cox found his descendants who now live in Louisiana.
It’s been a slow process of sifting through Census records, which are private for 72 years before release, international archives of Great Britain as well as Spanish archives in Cuba. But Cox is on a quest to name as many as possible.
The people who lived in the Maroon community were very skilled, he said. Many were masons, woodworkers, farmers. They tended the surrounding melon and squash fields, but little is known precisely about their day-to-day lives.
The area has always been ideal for settling, given its higher elevation and clearings amid the river’s mostly swampy perimeter, said Andrea Repp, a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist. Prior to European occupation, the site was sacred to natives and was named Achackweithle, which resembles the words for “standing view” in Creek, according to the Florida Geological Survey. Matthew Shack, a Panama City historian, praised the archaeological effort.
Shack, 76, is a descendant of Maroons. His great great grandfather escaped a North Carolina plantation, married a part-Native American woman and settled in Marianna. He remembers his grandmother’s stories about the Prospect Bluff community.
“I remember her telling us about the ‘Colored Fort’ and all the colored folk who died,” he said. “A lot of black history wasn’t taught. A lot of our history is lost, and some of it we won’t get back. I’m glad that there’s a renewed interest in capturing the history that I thought was lost.”
Angry Alaskans burned a village to the ground and executed 28 inhabitants by tying them up and knifing them in the head ‘in a feud over a darts game’ in the mid 17th Century
Archeologists have uncovered in Alaska a 350-year-old massacre that took place during a war that might have started over a game of dart. The discovery reveals the gruesome ways in which people were executed in a city and confirms part of a legend passed down by the Yup’ik people over the centuries.
A recent excavation in the town of Agaligmiut (which today is often called Nunalleq) has uncovered the remains of 28 peoples who died during the massacre and 60,000 well-preserved artifacts.
Agaligmiut had a large interconnected complex designed to facilitate defense, said Rick Knecht and Charlotta Hillerdal, both archeology lecturers at Aberdeen University in Scotland who lead the site excavation team.
“We found that it had been burned down and the top was riddled with arrow points,” Knecht told Live Science. Some of the 28 people found “had been tied up with grass rope and executed,” said Knecht, adding that “they were face down and some of them had holes in the back of their skulls from [what] looks like a spear or an arrow.”
When exactly the massacre occurred is not certain, though Knecht said the complex was constructed sometime between A.D. 1590 and 1630. It was destroyed by an attack and fire sometime between 1652 and 1677, he added.
The start of war?
The massacre occurred during what historians called the “bow and arrow wars,” a series of conflicts in Alaska during the 17th century. According to one Yup’ik legend, the conflict started during a game of darts when one boy accidently hit another in the eye with a dart.
The father of the injured boy knocked out both eyes of the boy who caused the injury, the story goes. Then, a relative of the boy who had both eyes knocked out retaliated, the conflict escalating as other family members of the two boys got involved.
The dart-game melee eventually resulted in a series of wars across Alaska and the Yukon.”There’s a number of different tales,” Knecht said, adding that “what we do know is that the bow and arrow wars were during a period of time [called] the little ice age, where it went from quite a bit warmer than it is now to quite a bit colder in a very short period of time.” The colder weather may have caused a food shortage that could have triggered the conflict, Knecht said.
Massacre at Agaligmiut
Stories passed down over the centuries tell how the people of Agaligmiut, led by a man called Pillugtuq, put together a war party and went to attack another village that went by various names, including Pengurmiut and Qinarmiut.
The people of this other village had prior warning of the war party, and they ambushed the fighters, killing or scattering all their warriors.
There are a number of stories about the ambush. In one story, women from the other village dressed up to look like men and participated in the ambush, using bows and arrows to attack the war party. Another story says that, shortly before the war party left Agaligmiut, a shaman warned Pillugtuq that Agaligmiut would be reduced to ashes, a warning that Pillugtuq ignored.
After the ambush, warriors from the other village proceeded to Agaligmiut, killed its inhabitants and burned Agaligmiut down. Since most of the men of fighting age were with the war party that had been ambushed, the slaughter consisted of mostly women, children and old men.
Archaeological discoveries confirm this, as the 28 bodies consist mostly of women, children and older men. “There was only one male of fighting age,” Knecht said.
Before the massacre
About 60,000 well-preserved artifacts tell what life was like at Agaligmiut before the massacre. The artifacts include dolls, figurines, wooden dance masks and grass baskets.
The permafrost kept the artifacts exceptionally preserved, Hillerdal said. “It’s amazing, a lot of these things could just be used today. Sometimes, we find the wood still bright and not even darkened by age,” Knecht said.
Wooden dance masks are some of the most interesting artifacts. “Oftentimes they depict a person turning into an animal or an animal turning into a person,” Knecht said.
The figurines and dolls were used for a variety of purposes, including religious rituals and as toys. A team from the 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee in Scotland has been using an Artec Space Spider scanner, which they acquired from Patrick Thorn & Co, to create highly detailed 3D scans of the artifacts.
The scans will be digitized into an education package to help students learn about the artifacts at Agaligmiut and what life was like at the site before the massacre occurred.
Research at Agaligmiut is supported by Qanirtuuq Inc., an Alaska Native Village Corporation in Quinhagak.
7,000-year-old Native American burial site found off Florida
The site was discovered by an amateur diver who was looking for shark teeth but stumbled on an ancient jawbone.
Archeologist Ryan Duggins noticed a worn – down molar tooth attached to the jawbone in a picture sent from the diver. This suggested it belonged to a prehistoric person.
State officials in Florida called finding an “unprecedented discovery.” The site began to be investigated by Duggins and his team from the “Archaic Period” located 900 ft (275 m) from the shore.
The burial grounds are expected to cover about 32,000 sq feet (3,000 sq meters) off the coast of Manasota Key.
Underwater, the team discovered densely packed organic remains, human bones, and sharpened wooden stakes and textile fragments, according to National Geographic.”
Seeing a 7,000-year-old site that is so well preserved in the Gulf of Mexico is awe-inspiring,”
In a Florida State Department press release, Mr. Duggins said, “We are truly humiliated by this experience.
“The site is believed to have been preserved in a freshwater pond thousands of years ago when water levels were 30ft (9m) lower, according to the press release.
The pond had a bottom covered in peat, which reportedly slowed the process of organic decay and allowed for the preservation of human remains.
“Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early peoples,” said Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
The state said they are working closely with Native American tribes to ensure the proper treatment of the bones.
“We are happy to be working, shoulder to shoulder, with the Bureau of Archaeological Research and the residents of Manasota Key to identify a preservation plan that will allow the ancestors to continue to rest peacefully and without human disturbance for the next 7,000 years”, the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s historic preservation officer Paul Backhouse told the Bradenton Herald newspaper.
“The highest priority of all involved is to honor tribal beliefs and customs with respect to this ancestral resting place,” said the Florida Department of State.
Florida archaeologists have discovered other evidence of the Archaic period but say this discovery is remarkable because the site survived offshore through hurricanes and erosion.
“The vast majority of underwater archaeological projects have historically been focused on shipwrecks,” Mr. Duggins told National Geographic.