Research Paper: Archaeological Sites in the U

Pages: 7 (2501 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Archeology  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Faught based this conclusion on the fact that the artifacts were not beat up and polished, but remained pristine sharp, along with there being a diversity of size and type. These findings were consistent with a rising sea level, not with objects being pushed downstream ("Florida's First People," n.pag.).

Searching for artifacts under sand, beneath nine to 20 feet of water and scattered across hundreds of square miles requires specialized equipment. To hunt for prehistoric artifacts, Faught selected the same remote-sensing survey instruments used to find sunken ships. Faught also used two kinds of sonar to locate the type of terrain where Florida's earliest inhabitants lived on flatlands near a source of fresh water ("Florida's First People," n.pag.).

The first type of sonar device Faught used was a sub-bottom profiler, a sonar device that transmits high-pitched sounds able to penetrate and reconstruct sediments at great depths. The sub-bottom profiler can detect bedrock and also identify the filled channels of drainage systems beneath the ocean floor. PaleoAucilla Prehistory Project researchers used the device to pinpoint the location of springs, sinkholes and ancient river channels ("Florida's First People," n.pag.).

The PaleoAucilla Project also used side-scan radar, a second tool that creates images of submerged geologic features. The device works by sending out sound waves in a bilateral angular pattern to the ocean's bottom, with pulse able to image a 100-200-foot-wide swath of the ocean floor to the sides and below. The resulting image of the sea bottom shows distinguishable features such as rock outcroppings that might have served as a source of flint from which tools were made ("Florida's First People," n.pag.).

Once researchers studied the sonar pictures of the terrain, divers went in and visually inspected specific targets for geological features such as rocky outcrops, limestone rock fields and sediment beds. Faught and his team then sampled the ocean floor by hand fanning for artifacts and collecting sediment samples. The information that these inspections produced was then used to decide whether more time would be devoted to the site ("Florida's First People," n.pag.).

Another underwater exploration in search of evidence of early Americans began in 2008 in an area 100 to 200 miles off Florida's west coast. Funded in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the team used a combination of remotely operated vehicles and remote sensing tools to explore submerged sites. In shallower depths, divers inspected sites to collect artifacts and animal fossils and to recover sediments used for geological analysis and radiocarbon testing (Morton).

The Great Lakes area is also the site of underwater archaeological exploration. Until recently, scholars believed that archaeological sites from the terminal Paleoindian and Archaic periods associated with the Lake Stanley low water stage (10,000 -- 7,500 BP) were lost beneath the modern Great Lakes. However, acoustic and video survey of a ridge which would have been a dry land corridor during that period showed a series of stone features that match structures used for caribou hunting in prehistoric times. The survey results showed evidence of early hunters on the Alpena-Amberley corridor, and indicated the possibility that intact settlements remain preserved beneath Lake Huron (O'Shea and Meadows, 10120).

Archaeologists searched for sites using surface-towed side scan sonar and remote-operated vehicles (ROVs). They also used autonomous underwater vehicles and direct observation by archaeologists using scuba gear. The side-scan sonar was conducted at a frequency of 330 kHz at a depth of 30m, to map overlapping swaths of approximately 200m. Once the acoustic survey identified targets of interest, an ROV, which was manually deployed from a small craft, then examined the area. The pilot search areas covered a total area of 72 square km at depths that ranged from 12 to 150m (O'Shea and Meadows, 10120).

Still other techniques are being used to search for submerged prehistoric archaeological sites in the Great Lakes area. This exploration is challenging due to the difficulties of locating scant cultural artifacts in lake-bottom sediment. Stone tool microfragments can be abundant and dispersed around tool-making sites, but had not previously been identified in an underwater context. Researchers used microdebitage analysis to test their use as a submerged site indicator. They analyzed five lake sediment cores from a shallow lagoon near a long-occupied prehistoric site at Rice Lake Ontario. Using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy methods, researchers found microdebitage consisting of angular to very angular quartz fragments with characteristic conchoidal fractures and flake scars produced by mechanical percussion. Accelerator mass spectrometry C. dating of wood fragments yielded ages of 9470 -8760 + 50 hr B.P. This analysis indicated a Late Paleoindian -- Early Archaic age for the deposit. These results showed that coring and microdebitage analysis can be used more widely to explore submerged landscapes in the Great Lakes basins (Sonnenberg, Boyce and Reinhardt).

To summarize, the fifty year long history of underwater archeology has yielded important artifacts and contributed to significantly expanding knowledge of prehistoric archaeological sites.

Works Cited

Anderson, David G. And Faught, Michael K. "The Paleoindian Period (ca. 13,000 B.C. To 7,900 B.C.)." National Park Service. n.d. Web. 6 May 2012. .

Faught, Michael K. "Submerged Paleoindian and Archaic Sites of the Big Bend, Florida." Journal of Field Archaeology 29, 3-4, (2004): 273-290.

"Florida's First People" Florida State University 2004. Web. 6 May 2012. .

Merwin, Daria E., Lynch, Daniel P., and Robinson, David, S. "Submerged Prehistoric Sites in Southern New England: Past Research and Future Directions" Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut 65 (2003): 41-56.

Morton, Debbie. "Underwater Exploration Seeks Evidence of Early Americans." Mercyhurst College 2009. Web. 6 May 2012. < http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-07/mc-ues070909.php>.

O'Shea, John M. And Meadows, Guy. A. "Evidence for Early Hunters Beneath the Great Lakes." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, 25 (2009): 10120 -- 10123.

Sonnenberg, Elizabeth P., Boyce, Joseph I., and Reinhardt, Eduard G. "Quartz flakes in lakes: Microdebitage evidence… [END OF PREVIEW]

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