An ancient canoe, estimated to be more than 1100 years old, was excavated by a team of archaeologists on Weedon Island, just off the coast of Florida, last week. The artifact is believed to have been built by the Manasota tribe that once inhabited the region but mysteriously disappeared around the 8th or 9th century.
The 40-foot canoe was actually discovered by amateur archaeologist Harry Koran more than a decade ago. Koran was combing the beach, looking for other artifacts, when he spotted the boat buried in the mud. He couldn’t tell exactly what it was when he first found the canoe, but the precise lines told him that it was man-made and more than just a branch in the soil. It turned out to be an artifact from a tribe that little is known about.
The team of archaeologists who excavated the craft worked carefully, but diligently, to remove the canoe from the mud. They cut the wooden hull into sections, and loaded it onto another boat for transport back to the mainland. Once there, they washed off centuries of muck and lowered the sections into clean, fresh water to prepare it for the preservation process ahead, a process that could take up to two years to complete. Once it has been painstakingly restored, the canoe will eventually go on display at Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center.
The Manasota tribe were believed to have lived in the southern Florida region for hundreds of years, dating back to the 5th century BC. They were one of the first tribes to build permanent residences in the area, and they apparently thrived there until the 9th century, when they disappeared, leaving little indication of what happened to them. Most historians believe that they were absorbed by other tribes that migrated to the Florida peninsula, but their actual fate remains a mystery.
[Photo credit: WTSP News]