The remnants of a prehistoric Native American village glowed faintly in the twilight Monday evening, history almost lost in the glare of downtown high-rises and the gleam of South Beach across the bay.

Archaeologist Bob Carr led a handful of students in placing 400 glow sticks in the postholes that form one of roughly 10 circular features in a vacant lot spanning half a city block destined to become a hotel and entertainment complex.

Archaeologists plan to repeat the low-tech project throughout the site as they finish field work over the next two months to illuminate the remnants of a Tequesta village before construction covers everything and the research is forced to move off site.

In daylight, a jumble of color-coded PVC pipes mark small postholes dug as early as 500 BC into soft limestone. The glow sticks will help define which holes were dug for circular hut-like buildings and which ones are included in a grid for what might have been elevated walkways connecting the structures over the tidal areas where the Miami River met Biscayne Bay before the city’s development.

“The prehistoric Tequesta had a complex plan for elevated structures,” Carr said. “This wasn’t just a couple of huts on the shoreline.”

The circle illuminated Monday will be covered as early as Tuesday with a tarp to protect it from construction that’s scheduled for completion in 2016. Miami’s commissioners in March approved a plan to preserve some of the archaeological finds in glass enclosures on the property.

Carr said a third to a half of the 2,000 individual postholes uncovered will be destroyed, but the finished complex will include crawl spaces to allow research on what remains to continue in the future.

Read More: Archaeologists use glow sticks to illuminate remnants of prehistoric village in Miami


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