Miami-Dade County

Miami historic preservation board to take up Tequesta dig

An archeological dig in downtown Miami is underway at the MetSquare development to unearth Tequesta Indian structures.
An archeological dig in downtown Miami is underway at the MetSquare development to unearth Tequesta Indian structures. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Miami’s historic preservation board will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Feb. 14 at City Hall to hear a proposal from the owners of a downtown Miami block where archaeologists have discovered a major prehistoric Tequesta Indian site.

The owner, MDM Developer Group, has long planned a commercial and hotel development on the site, but the recent excavation of what specialists believe to be the remnants of a 2,000-year-old Tequesta village has prompted calls for its preservation.

MDM has proposed carving out some of the circular arrangements of postholes carved in the bedrock that likely supported Tequesta dwellings, but preservationists have said that’s insufficient. Archaeological crews have uncovered up to eight circles and numerous “linear’’ arrangements of carved postholes that they believe supported other structures, possible boardwalks.

One board member, Timothy Barber, complained at a meeting Tuesday about what he said was the city’s lack of action to preserve the site, which some say is one of the most important prehistoric finds in the country.

“Anywhere else in America but Miami this would already be a designated historic site by now,’’ Barber said.

Board members asked city staff and attorneys to research what federal and local laws could support requiring preservation of the site, which would require MDM to significantly redesign its project.

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