Lake George Paleoindian Project
Underwater archaeological survey and excavation presents challenges that are not encountered in traditional terrestrial, but the potential rewards, including most significantly organic preservation, make the expense worthwhile. Submerged sites in Florida, such as Windover, Page-Ladson, and Warm Mineral Springs, produced 7,000-10,000 year-old organic artifacts that would never have survived more than a few decades in the harsh terrestrial conditions in Florida if they had not been submerged. We believe that Lake George is one of the few locations in Florida that has the potential to preserve intact Paleoindian-age sites with organic remains. The discovery and excavation of such a site will greatly expand our understanding of the first Floridians and inform broader questions about the earliest inhabitants in the Americas.
This multi-phase project is designed to identify high-probability submerged locales in northern Lake George that may contain Paleoindian sites and excavate promising sites. Several fluted points have been recovered from Lake George, and at least one large Suwannee-age base camp has been identified. Based on information from local collectors, the site has produced more than 40 Suwannee-type points and broken bases, other Paleoindian chipped stone tools, and fossils of extinct fauna.
Based on previous work in Florida (Daniel and Wisenbaker 1987; Dunbar 1991; Jones and Tesar 2000; Neill 1957, Thulman 2006), it appears that Paleoindian sites of Suwannee-age are more likely to be located adjacent to springs or watercourses, and the remnants of these geologic structures may be discernable. The northern end of Lake George was probably an area of reliable surface water during the Late Pleistocene (Thulman 2009), and this project will attempt to identify the likeliest site locales that could be practically investigated by more intensive and focused underwater excavation.
ARCOOP sponsored the underwater survey of the Lake George Point site in 2010. The publication describing the project is found at:
Thulman, David K. (2012). Paleoindian Occupations along the St. Johns River, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 65:79-86.