Tampa, FL - Underwater Archaeologist John Gifford, PhD from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and scientific divers from The Florida Aquarium are slowly finding the pieces of a puzzle submerged 90-feet below the surface of Little Salt Spring in North Port, Florida for more than 10,000 years.
After three years of excavating about 5-percent of the ledge 90 feet below the surface of the spring, Dr. Gifford, discovered multiple “items of interest” and brought those items to the surface this morning amidst media from around the region.
What’s the significance of the possible 10,000-year-old artifacts? They’d be the oldest artifacts found this far south in Florida, for one. For another, the uniqueness of the spring (it has almost no dissolved oxygen) acts as a preservative for the pieces of wood, bone and other matter lying dormant for thousands of years.
“Our research has only begun to scratch the surface of what this site may reveal to us,” said Dr. John Gifford. “The anoxic (absence of oxygen) environment at the bottom of the spring does not allow microbes and bacteria to live, so decomposition of organic material deposited there thousands of years ago is greatly reduced. Wooden and other organic tools, as well as animals' soft tissues and bones, are preserved nearly intact in this unique environment.”
No terrestrial archaeology site can offer actual wood artifacts preserved in this way. And if that fact isn’t enough, there are multiple “items of interest” (possible artifacts to you and me) found in a small one square meter of the ledge. It begs the question: how much more archaeological material is hiding in these murky depths.
The team of scientific divers from the University of Miami and The Florida Aquarium are dedicated to finding out. That’s why The Florida Aquarium offered to fund the project this year to the tune of $12,000 when other funding didn’t materialize.
“Divers from The Florida Aquarium are working with UM scientists in the complex archaeology excavation of Little Salt Spring,” said Thom Stork, CEO and President of The Florida Aquarium, “We feel the this is a story very much worth telling. Our hope is to one day house an exhibit worthy of this fascinating project.”
Donated to the University of Miami in 1982, Little Salt Spring was first discovered to be an underwater archeological site in the late 1950s. For more than five decades, however, no excavation of the 90-foot ledge was done until partnering with The Florida Aquarium for training necessary to working extensive time periods at that depth.
“Funding for this project is almost more difficult to find than the artifacts themselves,” said Tom Wagner, Florida Aquarium Spokesperson and diver on the project. “This is an archeologist’s dream come true. Every time Dr. Gifford uncovers something interesting, there is something even more interesting under it.”
The Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice has awarded the University of Miami $250,000 toward expansion of research and educational facilities at the underwater archaeological and ecological preserve, Little Salt Spring. The funds are available as part of a matching donation program to the Spring.
Photo Caption: Underwater Archaeologist John Gifford, PhD from the University of Miami takes a closer look at an "item of interest" that dates back to 10,000 years ago. This piece, along with others, were brought to the surface of Little Last Spring in North Port, Florida on Thursday, August 19.
Source From Great Site : http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-4082-Scientific_Divers_From_The_Florida_Aquarium_are_Finding_10,000_Year_Old_Artifacts