Scientists discover an old village of bead traders in Florida and offer a portrait of what life was like in America before Columbus
- Researchers controlled a drone over the northwest coast of Florida
- They discovered the evidence of a settlement for 200 to 300 villagers
- Based on the tools discovered on the site, they believe the village was used to manufacture beads and other decorative items for trade with domestic groups
This week, researchers from the University of Florida published findings from an archaeological project that sheds new light on what life was like in North America before Christopher Columbus arrived.
Using drones to scan the coastline of Northwest Florida, researchers discovered clues for a settlement between 900 and 1200 AD.
They discovered the evidence of a settlement that could have supported between 200 and 300 people, who in their opinion worked on making beads and decorative ornaments from shells that played an important role in Mississippian culture at the time.
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Researchers from the University of Florida discovered an old village on Raleigh Island in northwest Florida that, according to them, dates between 800 and 1200 AD
The settlement was discovered on Raleigh Island, halfway between Tampa and Tallahassee on the northwestern coast of Florida, just outside the Cedar Keys Wildlife Refuge.
The drone that discovered the settlement was equipped with a LiDAR system, according to a report from ArsTechnica.
LiDAR emits light rays and then measures the differences in how these rays are reflected by the environment to create a three-dimensional view of the terrain.
The team, led by University of Florida anthropologist Terry Barbour, identified at least 37 living spaces, marked by rings of oyster shell and post holes suggesting load-bearing structures.
When researchers arrived on site, they found a wide range of tools and other artifacts buried two feet to two and a half feet below the surface.
Researchers found a number of advanced tools and artifacts on the excavation, including pieces of polished earthenware, drills that could have been used on shells and various types of sea shell beads
These include pottery fragments, charcoal and remains of drills and stone polishing tools, which they believed were used in bead making and a variety of other decorative items that were popular at the time.
"What we have here is a settlement at the source of this commodity the moment seashells became a much sought after social item," said Barbour.
The site was discovered using a drone equipped with LiDAR (pictured above), which uses light rays to create a 3D image of the terrain.
"The fact that we have strong evidence of the production of beads on a site with an equally impressive architecture to help us understand how the production was socially organized makes this place truly special, and from now on the only place as we know it. "
The beads were usually made from the husk of lightning whelks, a medium to large mollusk common to the area.
The shells were used to make beads, decorative throat covers, cups, and embellishments for clothing found throughout America, including as far north as Cahokia in Illinois.
Cahokia is home to an extensive system of earthen terps thought to have been the location of an old city created by the Mississippi population.
Readings from the drone's LiDAR showed dozens of interconnected rings made with oyster and mussel shells, suggesting the boundaries of residential structures
Based on the number of different ring structures found on the ground, researchers believe that the settlement could have supported between 200 and 300 residents who collected and processed various sea shells into beads and other decorative objects
The exact role of the beads and other shell-derived items is not fully understood, but Barbour told Ars Technica that it is highly likely that the process of making some of these shell objects themselves are spiritual and religious prescriptions and bore connotations that meant that individual had to be a specialist or a priest. & # 39;
"By controlling the process of creating shell objects, including beads, elites could control certain meanings and stories about beads and other objects they produced."
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT CAHOKIA
Archaeologists know that around the year 900 people in the area started to cultivate corn and their population exploded, as evidenced by the number and size of buildings and structures that emerged in the region.
Archaeologists often see Cahokia as a chiefdom, with a hierarchy of smaller settlements spreading from the city, just like the small provincial chairs that surround the large government centers that we are familiar with today, Schroeder explains.
Cahokia was the largest and most influential urban settlement in Mississippian culture that developed advanced societies in much of what is now the central and southeastern United States, which began more than 1,000 years before European contact.
The population was at its peak in the 1200s, an estimated 20,000, would not be surpassed by any city in the United States until the end of the 18th century.
Today, Cahokia Mounds is considered to be the largest and most complex archaeological site north of the large pre-Columbian cities in Mexico.
But around 1200, coinciding with a large flood fingerprint in the sediments of Munoz, the population began to decline along with other shifts in the archaeological record.
Cahokia seems to be broken and his people have started to migrate to other parts of North America. By 1400, after the arid conditions that suppressed major floods and the rise of Cahokia beneficiaries were over, it was deserted.
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