The Ancient American Bog People of Windover

May 2, 2011   Filed under Travel

A 1982 discovery in the Florida has forced modern archaeologists to completely reconsider the established conventions regarding how the North American continent was settled. Several bones were unearthed during the initial stages of a housing development, in the Windover Farms subdivision in Titusville Florida when a backhoe operator noticed several bones protruding from the ground. The operator informed police and local archaeologists who were able to preserve from destruction.

The location is in close proximity to Cape Canaveral and Florida’s Disney World. This discovery marked the location of the Windover bog people and the largest, best preserved ancient cemetery in North America. The cemetery’s location was in a pond with a large bed of peat on its bottom. The Windover burial site was found to house no less than 168 buried individuals ranging their early 20 to 70 years of age. Of the bodies that were discovered, about half of those buried were younger than twenty years old.

The site also contained a surprising amount of woven baskets and textiles. The site was found to be approximately 9000 years old and predates both Native Americans and European settlers, placing them in a similar era to the Clovis people of New Mexico. The site would have been active at least 3500 years before the pyramids were built (according to currently disputed dates).

The buried bodies did not retain the skin as in similar bog sites in Europe. They were complete skeletons and 91 of the remains surprisingly retained some of their brain tissues due to the body’s burial within 48 hours postmortem. Had they not been buried as quickly deposited in to the bog, the brain matter would have liquefied very quickly in the hot Florida sun.

The Windover site was not a dumping ground for victims of murdered or sacrifice like the bog people of Europe, was found that site was in fact a place for ritualistic ceremonial burials. Only a couple of skeletons show any signs of violence.

The ritualistic nature of the burials seem so indicate a ceremonial burial. Almost all of the skeletons were laid on their left sides with the head pointing to the west and faces turned north. Woven textiles death shrouds were found wrapped around the skeletons. Approximately half of the bodies were male and the other half were female. The bodies were kept in place through the use of long stakes put through their death shrouds in an effort to keep the body from rising to the top of the bog in an effort to preserve them from rodents and scavengers. Some of the larger stakes found at the site were supposed to have been used as grave markers.

The ancient environment of the Windover people existed in flora and fauna that would have been similar to the vegetation and subtropical forests conditions of today’s environment. The people were deemed to have been a sedentary community of hunter-gatherers.

After performing extensive research on the remains, it was found that they survived on a diet that was high in soft fruits and berries and was shown that they consumed large dosages of medicinal plants as well.

The many bone tools found were mostly made from white-tailed deer, but tools made from bobcat, manatee, shark, opossum, and turtle. The fossilized stone tools discovered indicated that the Windover people consumed meat in their diet as well. The remains of the Windover people demonstrate that they were a fairly peaceful society and were quite sophisticated in their skills.

DNA evidence has delivered that the Windover people were not related to the modern Native American peoples. Fortunately, most of the archaeological bog site has been preserved for future DNA testing as the technology develops further.

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