Under water archaeologists recently discovered a 7,000 year old burial
ground under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico near Manasota Key in
Charlotte / Sarasota Counties, Florida. Human remains were found
and the site is believed to date back approximately 7,000 years. The site
appears to be a submerged former surface feature, a fresh water peat bog.
Peat is a much better preserver of organic remains than the silica sand
common to the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico especially off of most of
The site is a mere 300 yards offshore from popular Manasota Beach and
is now being patrolled. Divers and snorkelers are reminded that it is
unlawful to disturb submarine archaeological sites. The discovery happened
as a follow on investigation of the discovery of a human bone by a
recreational diver. The bone was nearly 7,000 years old. Carbon dating of
the site indicates that it is about 7250 years old. The submerged burial
ground which includes some protruding still preserved wooden stakes
helps establish the outline of the Florida coast of some 7,000 years ago
when the climate was colder and the sea shallower. There was nothing
new to learn from the site in terms of how long Florida has had human
inhabitants. Other graves in the state have already dated as far back as
14,500 years. However, careful, scientific investigation may yield
information on the lives of the inhabitants of Florida about 3,000 years
after the ice sheets of the last ice age began to melt. Moreover
there is information to be gained from this site concerning the actions
of peat in the preservation of organics, and the dynamics of former peat
bogs submerged for thousands of years under a salty sea.
Timothy Parsons is the director of Florida's Division of Historic Resources.
He has noted to the media that the site is important archaeologically,
but also is a burial site for human beings related to Florida's indigenous
peoples and as such is to be treated with utmost respect and dignity just as
you would respect a colonial era church grave yard. At only 300 yards off
shore and in shallow water, this is going to be a technically easy submarine
archaeological investigation. However, the present level of police protection
can't continue forever. A site like this will be dependent on public education
and public vigilance to avoid ruin.