Thursday, March 13, 2014

Early Floridians Give Us a Little Surprise

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Loretta reports:

English history, especially of the 19th century, is my first love, else I wouldn’t be in the business I’m in.  But if there’s a museum in the vicinity—any vicinity—resistance is futile.  All kinds of subjects can arouse my my innate nerdiness.  Years ago, working on some audio programs for the Orange County Regional History Center in Florida got me interested in its past, as mentioned here and here.

Naturally, when I heard about the old railway station in Fort Myers, Florida, which houses the Southwest Florida Museum of History, I had to make a field trip.

You will rarely see me entranced with dinosaurs and prehistoric people. But this vignette caught my attention, perhaps because of my addiction to Ancient Egypt, and the burial customs that have allowed us to learn so much about their world.  Without the mummies, ancient papyri, and other artifacts found mainly in tombs, we wouldn't know a fraction as much as we do. Likewise, thanks to this New World burial custom, archaeologists have been able to  study the DNA of a very ancient people, with surprising results.

“By the early Archaic period (about 7000 years ago), complex cultures existed among the early Florida peoples.  One such group in Southwest Florida practiced unusual burial rituals.

“When a member of the group died, they wrapped the body in cloth or hide and staked the wrappings into a shallow grave at the bottom of a pond  These burials took place within a day or two of death.  The muck at the bottom of the pond quickly covered the body, not unlike the process of fossilization, preserving it for future archaeological study.”

Among other things, scientists have learned that the 7,000 year old Floridians and today’s Native Americans are not genetically related.

Which raises the questions, Where did they come from?  To whom are they related?


Helena said...

I have to admit to knowing little American history and nothing about its prehistory, but this is fascinating. They can do amazing things with ancient DNA these days, so I hope more information will emerge in the next year or so (assuming they're still working on it).

GSGreatEscaper said...

I remember this museum from a trip a couple of years ago. Well worth it if one is in the Fort Myers area (we drove down from Port Charlotte.) The Edison/Ford Winter Estates are also a great place to visit.

Anonymous said...

You do find the oddest things. Your blog is an education in itself.
I am so glad you are History Nerds because I like the results.

Jill Sardella said...

After reading your post, I just HAD to find out where these people came from. In between getting my kids off to school, I was able to dig around and find some interesting articles and videos.

Here's a nice article that sums up their findings:

If you go on YouTube and search on "Windover Bog People" you can view a documentary on their findings such as the preservation of the textiles from the site and the DNA study.

(Geeky Archaeological Info):
The idea that these people were of European descent, helps support the Solutrean Hypothesis that Prehistoric peoples of Europe migrated over a ice bridge connecting North American to Europe (with some gaps)although this hypothesis is a minority opinion.

Thanks Lorretta for your fascinating post!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was such an interesting article! 7000 years! Amazing. And amazing that Native American Indians were not related to this group. Like you, Loretta, I wonder: who were they? Where did they come from? I hope you continue your investigations in Florida history.

I also went to the site mentioned by Jill Sardella.

Heather said...

I love this blog! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and love of history with us! We lived for a short time in Jacksonville, Florida and greatly enjoyed taking the trolley tours of St. Augustine. Every time someone came to visit, that was our entertainment for them. There's also a jail museum there that was uber creepy!

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket