TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Prehistoric shell mounds found on some of Florida’s most pristine beaches are at risk of washing away as the sea level rises, wiping away thousands of years of archaeological evidence.
"The largest risk for these ancient treasure troves of information is sea level rise," said Shawn Smith, a senior research associate with the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University.
But a joint project between Smith and the National Park Service is drawing attention to the problem to hopefully minimize the impact on the state’s cultural sites. Read more.
This Thursday, Americans will gather around groaning tables to consume massive amounts of turkey, gravy, potatoes and stuffing. It’s a tradition the country associates with a Pilgrim feast in the 1600s, but actually, 2013 marks only the 150th anniversary of official Thanksgiving.
The “First Thanksgiving” taught to schoolchildren around the country dates back to 1621, when the Calvinist settlers of Plymouth Colony, better known as the Pilgrims, got together with the Wampanoag tribe for a fall harvest festival.
In fact, harvest festivals date back further than that. Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles got together with Native Americans in St. Augustine, Fla., on Sept. 8, 1565, for a Catholic mass and a feast of thanksgiving, giving Florida a claim to the “first Thanksgiving” title. Read more.
To the untrained eye, many of the hundreds of artifacts pulled in recent months from a Florida spring in the Chassahowitzka River look like stuff nobody wanted to buy at a yard sale: old bottles, an antler, broken pieces of a plate, a toy cap gun, a bowl, a fishhook, pins.
But to archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot, who oversaw a five-month project that pulled hundreds of such items from a 2 1/2-acre field of muck as deep as 25 feet below the surface of the spring, they are much more.
"We found an amazing array of artifacts that basically represent every period of human occupation in Florida," he told CNN in a telephone interview. Read more.
A family of life-long treasure hunters has just made their largest discovery, long lost Spanish gold.
Rick Schmitt and his family have been active treasure hunters for decades, with their largest bounty valued at $25,000 found back in 2002.
This time they found three pounds of gold chains, five gold coins and a gold ring estimated to be worth $300,000. The bounty was found 15 feet under water near the coast of Fort Pierce, Florida while they were aboard their “AARRR Booty” boat.
It is believed the gold treasure is some 300 years old and came from one of the 11 Spanish galleon ships that went down during hurricane season back in July, 1715. Read more.
Glass-bottomed boats, alligator wrestling and snake milking, aided by the lure of some of the purest water on the planet, built Silver Springs’ fame as a tourist spot in the middle of the last century.
Now, scientists apparently have uncovered a treasure trove of buried materials that indicate — or perhaps confirm — the renowned site’s crystal clear waters were a draw for visitors long before the first modern tourists arrived.
University of Florida archaeologists surveying the property suggest the preliminary findings they have recorded could land Silver Springs on the roster of America’s most historically significant venues. Read more.
Florida should be a treasure hunter’s dream come true. Except it’s not.
Its sand and sea hide riches of the past, thanks to the state’s Spanish colonizers of the 1500s and treasure-laden ships that sank off shores.
Until recently, you didn’t have needed to dig very deep to find valuable booty. With a metal detector, you easily could unearthed treasures left behind by forgetful beachgoers.
A Tiffany & Co. platinum wedding band worth more than $2,000, a 3/4-carat diamond ring, a 2-carat ruby ring and a mint-condition Rolex Submariner watch are just a few of the riches Gary Drayton recovered during his metal-hunting days. His best find was a 9-carat Spanish-era emerald ring.
But that may be the end of it for Drayton and his treasure-seeking ilk. Read more.
Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill that makes it a crime to pilfer arrowheads, pottery and other archaeological artifacts on water-authority lands.
It closes a loophole in Florida’s laws, providing water authorities with the same protection given to state-owned lands, said Mike Perry, Lake County Water Authority executive director, who pushed for the new legislation. It was sponsored by state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, and state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla.
Perry said looting has long been a problem in Lake County. But there was little the water authority could do to discourage treasure hunters from tearing up wetlands and preserves in search of American Indian artifacts, costing thousands of dollars to repair the land, Perry said. Read more.
A two-year undercover investigation by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers culminated Wednesday with the arrest of 13 people suspected of plundering up to $2 million in state archaeological artifacts.
Those arrested and charged with more than 400 felony violations for looting and dealing in stolen artifacts taken from around the state include Nathan A. Curtis and Terry Tinsley, both of Havana. The other suspects were from elsewhere in Florida. Two live in Georgia and were arrested there.
“This looting incident didn’t just take artifacts out of the ground, it took history away from this generation and future generations of Florida,” Robert Bendus, the state’s historic preservation officer, said at a Wednesday news conference. Read more.