November 6, 2019
Archaeologists, using LIDAR technology, have uncovered a settlement dating to 900-1200 CE on Raleigh Island off the coast of northern Florida. They found 35 residential areas enclosed by edges of oyster shells. They found the inhabitants were making beads from mollusk shells as an important trade item. Past investigations of this area had been stymied by the dense foliage in the area. The shell borders are up to 12 feet high. Archaeologists have now embarked on 10 test digs at the sites. They have uncovered the tools that were used on the bead production.
The tribe that constructed these settlements were probably from the Tocobaga tribe who lived on the west coast of Florida from 900-1500 CE.
The settlement found on Raleigh Island is ‘unprecedented in its architecture, its scale of bead production, and its place in regional geopolitics,’
The beads produced on the island would have been exported to chiefdoms across much of the east and mid-west during the Mississippian era. They were worn as prestige items among the Mississippian elite.
Reports of this find are at Ancient Origins, Ars Technical’s and the Smithsonian;
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