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Drones reveal secrets of an ancient Florida village

  Drones reveal secrets of an ancient Florida village.
A drone equipped with light recognition and range quickly gathered architectural details and topographic data for the settlement of Raleigh Island with unprecedented resolution. The images revealed rings made of oyster shells surrounding 37 residences. Credit: University of Florida

Using drone technology, a team of UF researchers discovered how an ancient Florida village played a major role in pre-Columbian geopolitics.

In anthropology-led research, Ph.D. student TERRY BARBURT, the team discovered that the village of Raleigh, located on the north shore of Florida Bay around 900–1

200 AD, acted as a major producer of sea crab beads. The beads used in rituals at the time were highly valued in communities as far away from the coast as the lower Midwest.

"The shape, scale and purpose of the Raleigh settlement has no parallel in the archaeological record of Southeast Americans," said Ken SASAMAN, a Barbour adviser and co-creator of the study. Sasaman is professor of archeology at Florida Haat and Sichi Brown Department of Anthropology

Scientists use drones to explore ancient settlement for a fraction of the time that traditional methods would take.

LiDAR sheds light on how a settlement is a complex of at least 37 living spaces, surrounded by a 4-meter oyster edge – was organized to make the beads at the very place where the shells were found, and in several habitats, the excavations of the researchers have revealed ample evidence of large-scale production of the beads.

The settlement on Reilly Island is one of the few coastal communities where such widespread craftsmanship has been found.

"What is the settlement here at the source of this raw material at a time when sea shells are beginning to become a highly sought after social unit," Barber said. "The fact that we have strong evidence for the production of beads in an equally impressive architecture to guide us to understand how production is socially organized makes this place really special and for now the only place we are aware of." [19659005] The findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

Israeli archaeologists claim to have discovered an ancient city

More information:
Terry E. Barbour et al. Rare pre-Columbian Gulf Coast settlements discovered by LiDAR high resolution drone, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). Doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1911285116

Provided by
The University of Florida
Reference :
Drones Reveal Secrets of Ancient Florida Village (2019, November 6)
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