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Artifacts stolen from Weedon Island Preserve

An artifact thief in St. Petersburg? That's right. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says someone broke into a display case at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center over the weekend and stole two pins made of deer bone and a fossilized bone ornament that may have been used as a pendant. Here's a look at the theft, and the Weedon people.

What happened?

The Sheriff's Office says someone broke into a clear plastic display case over the weekend by loosening screws, holding a window open, and reaching in to take the three artifacts, each of which are more than 1,000 years old. It appears to have happened when the center was open, but few people were inside.

What were the stolen artifacts used for?

Phyllis Kolianos, the manager of the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, said the Weedons may have used the deer bone pins as hair ornaments and the fossil may have been used as a pendant. Kolianos said the items are "priceless" and illustrated how Weedon people lived.

Who were the Weedons?

According to the Web site of the preserve at www.weedonislandcenter.org, the Weedons (or Weedens) were a people whose pottery and other artifacts date their arrival in what is now northeast St. Petersburg to about 1,800 years ago. The culture lasted about 800 years before being decimated by disease, warfare and social disintegration brought about by contact with the Spanish. The Weedon Island site is a large shell midden and burial mound complex that first gained national attention in the early 1920s when Jesse Walter Fewkes of the Smithsonian Institution excavated a portion of the burial mound.

What can I do to help?

The Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information to call (727) 582-6200.

The Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The preserve is open daily, dawn to dusk. In addition to the history center, there are hiking trails, a 45-foot observation tower and videos and exhibits about the early residents of Weedon Island. The center is located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Call (727) 453-6500, or go to www.weedonislandcenter.org.

Artifacts stolen from Weedon Island Preserve 06/25/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 8:06pm]
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