Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Remnants of ancient Indian village found in Miami

MIAMI — In urban archaeology, the backhoe is a time machine: Scrape away a mountain of asphalt, dirt and rock near the river in downtown Miami, and the city's buried history, centuries of it, suddenly comes to light in a startling reveal.

Here are three smooth concrete steps leading down to a tiled floor, a remnant of industrialist Henry Flagler's grand Royal Palm Hotel, which gave birth to modern Miami and its tourism industry. There are the brick bases of the columns that once held up the hotel's famed veranda.

A few more steps bring you to a pattern of ancient postholes bored in the bedrock, likely for Tequesta Indian village structures and likely well more than 1,000 years old.

And then perhaps the most remarkable find: the worn limestone of the original shoreline at the confluence of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay, long ago covered with fill as Flagler and his successors extended the downtown land mass for development.

When archeologist Bob Carr and his crew took away the dirt at that spot, they discovered, much to their surprise, a natural freshwater spring, still bubbling up from the aquifer after all these years.

Soon all of this will be gone again, removed or reburied after documentation in preparation for construction of the entertainment complex known as Met Square. It's the last piece in a multi-block development occupying historic ground zero, the place where civilization first took root 2,000 years ago in what is today a forest of skyscrapers.

"That this has always been a prime location is evident from the thousands of objects we have found from the people who lived here," said Carr, whose nonprofit Archaeological and Historical Conservancy has been digging in phases on the Met Miami properties since 2005. "What's exciting about this project is you get to slice through time, from ancient times right through modern times."

What Carr's work has shown is that, while Miami may not be Rome, it has a longer and more layered history than many of the tens of thousands of downtown office workers who daily throng the area can imagine. Carr, who discovered the Miami Circle on the south bank of the river's mouth in 1998, says he now believes the Tequesta settlement extended to both sides of the river, and may have reached as far west as Miami Avenue and as far north as present Flagler Street.

It was long known that the Tequestas, a tribe of hunters and fishermen, thrived on the north bank of the river for some 2,500 years before European disease wiped them out in the 1700s. To build his hotel, Flagler's engineers flattened and removed a Tequesta burial mound; those remains are probably buried under a nearby office building, Carr believes. An Indian midden, or refuse mound, is preserved beneath the pool deck of the Hyatt hotel nearby.

But that so much remains to be found is thanks largely to the fact that nothing but a series of parking lots was built on the site after the Royal Palm, erected in 1897, was damaged by the 1926 hurricane and subsequently demolished. And though the hotel was taken down in sections, pieces sold off, and the rest burned, its foundations, underflooring and other structural elements were left in place.

A city law requires archaeological assessment in certain zones before construction can proceed.

Since Carr began exploring the former Royal Palm site, he and his assistants have uncovered surprisingly extensive remnants of the hotel, which boasted the first sewer and fire-suppression systems, electric lights, elevators and swimming pool in Miami. Those finds include foundations, pipes, pieces of wooden walls still coated in Flagler's signature yellow paint, bricks still legibly stamped "AUGUSTA," presumably for their origins in Georgia, and thousands of small artifacts such as hotel keys.

In the layer below, the archaeologists found extensive evidence of a Tequesta settlement, including rudimentary tools, fragments of bones and shells from the fish and animals that fed the Native Americans. And on the lot where a Whole Foods market is now under construction, they discovered an Indian cemetery with the fragmentary remains of an estimated 500 people. Those remains have been reburied in an undisclosed location under the guidance of the Seminole Tribe.

Artifacts, meanwhile, have been analyzed, logged and sent to the HistoryMiami museum, where significant pieces have been used in exhibits, including a large turtle shell from the Miami Circle.

Also reburied on site was the second circular pattern of postholes discovered by Carr and dubbed the Royal Palm Circle. Probably the foundation of a house or houses, this was a double ring, and not as elaborate or substantial as the Miami Circle, which was preserved after an international outcry.

The Miami Circle, which carbon dating put at 1,700 to 2,000 years of age, consists of 24 holes cut into the limestone in a perfect circle, probably the foundation for a structure that some historians believe had a ceremonial use. The Miami Circle is now a state archaeological park.

Comments
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

ST. PETERSBURG — Teamwork wins games, they say. And basketball can bridge gaps.That’s what makes the Facebook video of three St. Petersburg police officers playing a game of pickup in the street against three kids so compelling. The officers, who wer...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

PORT RICHEY — The casino boat operator whose shuttle caught fire Sunday, leaving one passenger dead, says it does not know what could have caused the blaze.But federal records show the company, now called Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, had another boat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Did everyone enjoy the cool, sunny weather? Because it’s over now.It’s about to get very chilly, Tampa Bay. A rush of arctic air is headed our way, bringing another cold spell. Daytime temperatures will be in the low 60s on Wednesday, but overnight t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Jackpot winner and Florida man Shane Missler wants to leave behind a legacy with his winnings.But he won’t be doing that by doling out cash to Twitter followers.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpotAn account cunningl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

TAMPA — Hillsborough County officials fired a Fire Rescue medic Tuesday after an internal investigation concluded he had "unwavering loyalty" to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club — the state’s dominant biker gang.Clinton Neal Walker, 33, of Bradenton is th...
Updated: 1 hour ago

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to Rohingya repatriation timeline; Madsen charged in journalist Wall’s death; more in world news

Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to Rohingya repatriation timeline; Madsen charged in journalist Wall’s death; more in world news

South AsiaNations plan Rohingya returnBangladesh and Myanmar have agreed that they will try to complete within two years the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled from violence in Myanmar, Bangladesh’s Foreign Min...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Associated PressNEW YORK — Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italy’s Ferrero for about $2.9 billion in cash. Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerd...
Updated: 2 hours ago