Florida History Springs Forth

Digs & Discoveries March/April 2014

(Courtesy SEARCH)

About 70 miles north of Tampa, Florida, lies the spring-fed source of the Chassahowitzka River. Its name means “a place for the hanging pumpkins” in Seminole, and until recently it was blocked by septic tank runoff and algal overgrowth. When the Southwest Florida Water Management District decided to clean the spring up last year, it brought in SEARCH, a local cultural resources management company. Good thing, too, since amid the refuse was thousands of years of history.

Artifacts pulled out over the four-and-a-half-month effort include a Suwannee point that, according to Michael Arbuthnot, an archaeologist with SEARCH, likely dates to 10,000 years ago. Dredgers also found a rare, intact Pasco Plain ceramic vessel, dating back 2,000 years to the Woodland period, as well as pottery brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers and a toy cap gun dating to the mid-twentieth century. “Florida springs are widely known as magnets for human activity, both prehistoric, historic, and modern,” says Arbuthnot. “For the relatively low cost of having an archaeologist present, we’ve opened up the Chassahowitzka Springs and the material it held for all to see.”