Rotary explores the long ago with Aucilla Research Institute

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Aucilla Research Institute representatives, Tom Harmon, Jack Carswell and David Ward were guest speakers at Bainbridge Rotary this week to talk about their exciting archaeological research projects.

Aucilla Research Institute, a 501 C 3 organization, is an outgrowth of a meeting of 18 or 19 of the world’s leading paleontologists, climatologists, archaeologists and other scientists from several fields who joined together in 2012 in Monticello, Florida at a program called First Floridians- First Americans hosted by Monicello Main Street.

Speaker Tom Harmon, talked of his early archaeological interest in finding arrowheads in the bottoms of the rivers, which is now restricted. He showed photos of some of the finds, including some pre-Clovis artifacts, that he said leads them to believe there were people here before the Clovis people.

Harmon said Aucilla is now doing cutting edge science, doing research from the artifacts found in digs at Wakulla Springs, Florida. They were trying to find documentation of the Kinnard brothers’ homesite. They have a copy of the treaty beween Spain and the Indians, showing the boundaries of the second occupation by Spain. The Kinnards chose the site at Wakulla Springs to raise their cattle and horse farm. Harmon said they have a map that shows the two cabin sites. Richard Kinnard’s cabin was probably under the present-day lodge. Two years ago they dug 938 postholes down to rock. All period pieces were from 1804 back 13,000 years minimum. “I like to tell people that where we are sitting here now and talking, there has been someone doing the same thing for at least 16,000 years.”

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This spring there were kids and parents coming to Wakulla on spring break. They let the kids dig and find artifacts. They were very excited, but now allowed to keep them as it is a controlled dig and all findings are the property of the Florida Bureau of Archeology.

Harmon went on to say that of all the artifacts found, the clovis knife is the only tool in the Clovis period that has ever been found “in situ,” meaning we know exactly where it is from and were able to find it.

Using a laser process we can measure the radiation that comes off of and it gives us the approximate date of the findings.

There are questions and disagreements about where these ancient people who inhabited the area came from, Asia or Europe.

All of the rivers in the South end, except for the Apalachicola are spring fed, therefore, items that are in the river stay in the bottoms, or sink holes, as there is no real current push. Harmon said Jefferson County Florida has the oldest recorded artifact found in North America, claiming it dates to 14,500 years ago

The big question remains who the people were—“How did that guy get here? That is what we are trying to discover.”

He concluded we cannot look at what is possibly coming in the world, without looking a where we have been.