Museum accepts 'blueberry site' items
Jay Meisel | Highlands TodayLAKE PLACID - Twenty-one years after one of the most significant archaeological finds in South Florida happened almost by chance near Lake Placid, artifacts from the site were transported this past week to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
Published: December 22, 2012
Published: December 22, 2012
William Marquardt, curator of South Florida Archaeology for the museum, said museum workers collected more than 100 boxes of artifacts, including ancient pottery and tools from what is known as the blueberry site.
It's a "very important archaeological site in an area that's not well understood," he said.
Marquardt said the museum will use the site materials to get insight into the communities that existed more than 1,000 years ago in the area.
He credits Anne Reynolds and her husband, Charles, who bought the site and preserved it for archaeological digs. "They did a great service, not only for archaeologists, but also your county," Marquardt said.
"It's a real honor to have them (the museum) accept the donation," Reynolds said.
Reynolds, a former teacher, didn't plan to become involved in an archaeology dig that would last 21 years and counting. She said artifacts were found near the blueberry site and brought to her. When the site went up for sale in the early 1990s she and her husband bought it.
Although it's called the blueberry site, blueberries have no significant role in the site, archaeological or otherwise, she said.
"When we bought the property, my husband said it had to pay for itself," Reynolds said.
Although the property had wild blueberries, they concluded that growing blueberries as a crop was "probably not a very good idea," she said, adding that they chose citrus crops instead.
While the site produced citrus crop revenue, the historical dividends far exceeded what they expected, she said.
"We assumed it was a burial mound," she said. "We weren't planning to dig out there at all."
"Three years later, we discovered a village there," she said.
From there, archaeologists got involved and the digging continued, Reynolds said. "It's been a long, tedious process."
Near the surface they found items, such as pottery, that were produced by the Spanish, most likely in the 1600s, she said. Since the Spanish never made it this far inland, Indians who traded with the Spanish must have then traded with Indians in the site area, Reynolds said.
Digging further, they found the pre-Columbian village that was inhabited by what is called the Belle Glade culture, Reynolds said.
Little is known about Indians who were part of the Belle Glade culture, Marquardt said. It's hoped that research into items from the blueberry site will shed light on them, he added.
One of the most important aspects of the blueberry site "is that it was undisturbed," Reynolds said. Everything found at the site was carefully documented, she added.
Those factors are what make the site valuable, Marquardt said. That enables archaeologists to determine the historical context of the artifacts, he said.