The cleanup drive conducted in recent months on the spring in Chassahowitzka River in Florida derived more benefits aside from restoring the water to pristine condition. As the cleanup crew were clearing the spring of dirt and debris, underwater archeologists looking into the refuse that were collected from the depths discovered artifacts that tracked the history of people in the state.
Not ordinary stuff
From a layperson’s eye, the finds would seem to be regular objects that nobody would even notice. But expert archeologists present in the cleanup found the articles were not ordinary stuff. Archeologist Michael Arbuthnot who witnessed the five-month cleanup program said that there was much more to the stuff that was dug from down below the spring which is as deep as 25 feet.
The discovered artifacts included old bottles, an antler, broken plates, a bowl, a fishhook, a toy cap gun, pins and many more. The archeologists also dated one spear point from a Suwannee projectile to be 10,000 years old, right at the cusp of the Ice Age. A person hunting for a mammoth could have lost the spear. Meanwhile the fishhook is said to date back in centuries B.C. and could have been used for catching big animals in the water such as alligators.
Archeologist Arbuthnot went to say in an interview that they found a collection of artifacts that essentially represented each period of human life in Florida. The spring, located north of Tampa and around 90 minutes away, was subjected to a cleanup as part of a state funded project to clean the water to improve its flow and quality. The cleanup project apparently produced a side benefit, which is the discovery of the artifacts. The accumulated organic materials, according to Arbuthnot, were all around the duct. Upon realizing there was a wealth of artifacts in the bottom, the divers labored to scoop up their 6-inch dredge, being extra careful that they might hit artifacts buried in the bed.
Known for its hanging pumpkins, the spring in the Chassahowitzka is one of the major tourist attractions in Florida. Numerous tourists, canoeists, fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers would visit this place all year round. The downside of the influx of visitors however manifested over the years as it caused mess to build up from septic tank waste to the filth that spilled down from the nearby watershed. The accumulated rubbish resulted to algal growth that made the place less inviting. According to senior environmental scientist Philip Rhinesmith from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the thick organic layer was crucially clogging up the spring.
The dredging operation took place from May to September this year. Underwater archeologists used a vacuum to excavate sediments from the floor and then deposited their finds into a suspended screen platform before sifting out the rubbish in search of artifacts. Since the discovery took place on a state-owned land, the artifacts belong to Florida. Some of the objects will be displayed at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum in Inverness, Florida. They have been labeled and temporarily stored in a laboratory in Gainesville.
Photo Credit: Chassahowitzka River