- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

MIAMI (AP) - Archaeologists have uncovered an extensive Native American village in downtown Miami they believe is one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the United States.

Over the past several months, archaeologists have dug up eight large circles consisting of uniformly carved holes in the limestone. They think these are foundation holes for Tequesta Indian dwellings that could date back 2,000 years.

“What’s unusual and unique about the site is that it’s this huge chunk of land where a major part of this ancient Tequesta village site is preserved,” archaeologist Bob Carr said in an interview. “It’s one of the earliest urban plans in eastern North America. You can actually see this extraordinary configuration of these buildings and structures.”

The finds have left officials and a downtown developer in a quandary. MDM Development Group has plans to build movie theaters, restaurants and a 34-story hotel on the site. The city of Miami granted MDM zoning and development approvals for the project, but not a final building permit, before the scope of the findings was known.

In addition to the village foundation, thousands of Tequesta artifacts have been uncovered. New remnants of industrialist Henry Flagler’s 1897 Royal Palm Hotel have also been unearthed.

The state and Miami-Dade County historic-preservation officials want the city to consider other options that could salvage the site, or at least a portion of it.

MDM already, however, has leases for businesses on the site and could lose substantial money if that happens. The developer has offered to carve out the limestone holding one or two of the larger circles and display them in a planned public plaza. In recent weeks, they have discussed doing more.

“We will do our utmost,” MDM director Ian Swanson told The Miami Herald (https://hrld.us/1io6eSM). “There is no easy answer to this at all.”


Information from: The Miami Herald, https://www.herald.com

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