Excavations Underway for Site with Mysterious Shell Ring

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Michele Pierson sifts for artifacts Thursday at an archaeological dig on Big Talbot Island
University of North Florida student Michele Pierson sifts for artifacts Thursday at an archaeological dig on Big Talbot Island. Photo: Will Dicket, Jacksonville.com

University of North Florida archaeologists and students have begun excavations on a site where the First Coast Native American Timucuan tribe’s ancestors left behind a 65-meter-wide ring of shells. First discovered in 1974, the site is part of Big Talbot Island State Park and is believed to have been inhabited between AD 900 and 1200.

The cultural groups that lived among the marshes of Big Talbot were among the first people to travel across the country to trade and set up diplomatic relations with other Native American towns.

UNF researcher Keith Ashley holds a shard from a St. Johns check stamped pot from 900-1250 A.D. Photo: Will Dickey
UNF researcher Keith Ashley holds a shard from a St. Johns check stamped pot from 900-1250 A.D. Photo: Will Dickey

This year’s excavations have a public archaeology goal – to collect information for the staff at Big Talbot  so they can better educate their guests on the history of this site.

Researchers at the site says that this kind of shell formation is quite rare – so rare, in fact, that the last one that was discovered dated back to 1500 BC.

Lead Archaeologist, Keith Ashley, believes that the Native Americans who built this particular shell ring were actually copying their own ancestors – “They’re bringing the past back to life.”

Read More: Archaeologists trying to solve ring of shells mystery

 

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