In the layer below, the archaeologists found extensive evidence of a Tequesta settlement, including rudimentary tools, fragments of bones and shells from the fish and animals that fed the Native Americans. And on the lot where a Whole Foods market is now under construction, they discovered an Indian cemetery with the fragmentary remains of an estimated 500 people. Those remains have been reburied in an undisclosed location under the guidance of the Seminole Tribe.
Artifacts, meanwhile, have been analyzed, logged and sent to the HistoryMiami museum, where significant pieces have been used in exhibits, including a large turtle shell from the Miami Circle.
Also reburied on site was the second circular pattern of postholes discovered by Carr and dubbed the Royal Palm Circle. Probably the foundation of a house or houses, this was a double ring, and not as elaborate or substantial as the Miami Circle, which was preserved after an international outcry.
The Miami Circle, which carbon dating put at 1,700 to 2,000 years of age, consists of 24 holes cut into the limestone in a perfect circle, probably the foundation for a structure that some historians believe had a ceremonial use. The Miami Circle is now a state archaeological park.
Carr began digging on the present site, the last undeveloped piece of the Met properties, in November. (Other phases of the project include the Met One residential tower, the Wells Fargo Center office tower and the adjacent Marriott Marquis hotel, 255 Biscayne Blvd. Way.)
The latest dig also uncovered a third, roughly circular, pattern of postholes, like the Miami Circle about 38 feet in diameter, probably the foundation for a house sited on the river bank near the freshwater spring. Because carbon dating has yet to be performed, Carr doesnt know how old the house is, but he said it likely dates back at least 1,000 years.
All of these things have a story to tell about the prehistoric people of downtown Miami and about the ancient environment, and how much it has changed and degraded because of urbanization, he said. It was an interesting to see fresh water coming out in downtown Miami. At one time these springs were all along the shoreline of Biscayne Bay. Theyre still there, but theyre under all these buildings and fill.
Calling Carrs latest findings really fascinating, Miami historian Paul George said its too bad they cant feasibly be preserved on site. But he also finds a bright lining in the sites redevelopment with residential buildings and an entertainment center that will include movie theaters, harking back to the heyday of downtown Miami in the 1950s.
The new buildings will conceal Miamis physical history, but bring new life to a site thats been dormant for too long, he said.
Were not going to be around to see these things again, George said. Judging from the size of these buildings, they will be around for generations. What can you do?
But this is the birthplace of this whole area, and now were coming back to it.