Monday, July 10, 2006

Salvaging Ancient History


The land was to be sold for hi-rise development, and the riding stables and pony ring would soon be history. The nursery school next door was slated to be demolished also. The 1930's vintage trailer park still had the rusting and rotting carcasses of a few ancient trailers, true trailers, not "mobile homes", hidden amongst the trees on the east side of Arch Creek. A few posts below I wrote about how a bond issue saved the land for public parks.

When this shot was made we still all thought that everything was soon to be leveled, the oak trees gone, the remains of several thousands of years of human habitation destroyed by the bulldozers. The developers agreed to let a group of mostly amateur archeologists explore the site under the direction of some professors from the University of Miami. I think everyone secretly hoped to find the proverbial Treasure Chest, the mother lode of gold coins and jewelry buried either by early Spanish explorers or perhaps even real pirates. Their were also rumors of treasure moved south by Confederate soldiers during the U.S. Civil War.

Because of the rush to beat the bulldozers the usual care to keep track of exact locations on a grid map and notate the exact depth of where an item was found was fudged a bit. A few coins were found along with some everyday items such as belt buckles and buttons, the occasional lead bullet, but nothing of any real monetary value. Tools and cooking utensils made from shell, some pieces of pottery, and the rare flint item the Native Americans had traded with their more northerly relatives were the most common things. No clay or flint is found this far south. There were lots of charrred bones in what seemed to be fire pits that probably burned pretty much in the same place for hundreds or even thousands of years. There's a small museum on site today with some ofthe items on display. Maybe they should have also kept some of those old beer and soda cans, or better yet, the Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottles that would've been worth the two cents deposit when you returned them to the store.

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