A 7,000-year-old Native American burial site off the Florida coast has accidentally been found by an amateur diver in an ‘unprecedented’ discovery.
The diver and fossil hunter claimed he was searching for shark teeth near Manasota Key in the Gulf of Mexico in 2016 when he saw an ancient jawbone.
The unnamed diver notified the Bureau of Archaeological Research to ‘possible human remains,’ according to The Independent.
It is thought that indigenous people used the site – which is 275 metres from shore and measures 0.75 acres – to bury their family members, as the location was once a freshwater peat-bottomed pond, say archaeologists.
Over time, the pond was submerged due to rising seas in the Gulf of Mexico, but the remaining peat slowed the decaying process so ancient human remains were preserved.
Human bones, fragments of textile and sharpened wooden stakes have been discovered by the team excavating the area, reported National Geographic.
Ken Detzner, Florida’s Secretary of State, said: “Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early peoples.”
State officials stated that they were assessing how best to manage the site and protect it for future generations.
According to The Independent, ‘Divers, a statement said, are prohibited by law from disturbing the site and police are frequently patrolling looking for any suspicious activity.’