Back in 1982 work began on a road across a pond in a new housing development known as “Windover Farms.” A backhoe operator began to notice the many “rocks” he was digging up and found that odd as rocks were not common in the area. Turns out the “rocks” weren’t rocks at all but bones….human bones!
Thus began the discovery of America’s Bog People at a site that has become known as the Windover Archaeological Site in Brevard County, Florida. The bones were buried 6 feet (2m) or deeper beneath the peat at the bottom of the pond and under 3 to 10 feet of water.
Bones of men, women, and children were found of all ages from infants to people as old as perhaps 70. Total to date is 168 individuals found. The average height of adult males is about 5 ft 9 in (175 cm). The skeletons showed evidence of the effects of disease and healed wounds. Many of the bones of the children showed interrupted growth possibly due to malnutrition or severe disease. Older females showed signs of osteoporosis and several bones of adults both male and female showed signs of osteoarthritis. Some of the skeletons showed signs of wounds that were likely the cause of death of some of the individuals. The pelvis of one male had a spear point embedded in it while others showed severe skull fractures.
One male child skeleton about age 15 showed signs of spinal bifida. His bones were very fragile and one of his feet were missing. However, the stump of his lower leg had healed. Most of these skeletons were buried in the fetal position with their heads facing west and their faces north but a few were buried face down and laying straight. The bodies were held down by stakes to prevent them from floating to the top as they decomposed. These bodies were buried in clusters of 5 or 6.
Some of the bodies contained brain tissue indicating they were buried right away. Florida’s climate would have liquefied the brains had they not been buried immediately. The peat also helped preserve the brains and remains. DNA was sequenced from this tissue and that DNA indicated ASIAN ORIGINS and a rare haplogroup X. This DNA also indicated that the bodies share NO BIOLOGICAL AFFILIATION WITH MORE MODERN NATIVE AMERICAN GROUPS KNOWN TO HAVE LIVED IN THE AREA!
The remains have been dated at between 6990-8120 years old using C14 dating.
In terms of artifacts many were deposited with the skeletal remains and preserved. A total of 86 pieces of fabric were found and these showed 7 different textile weaves. Other artifacts found include atlatl (spear throwers) and projectile points. It appears they hunted animals, fished, and gathered plants thus making them a Hunter-Gatherer Society. They also apparently used gourds for food storage and this provides the earliest evidence for vegetable container storage discovered in North America.
Windover is not the only water burial site. Rather, it is one of several archaic sites in Florida with underwater burials in peat. Similar burials have been unearthed at Little Salt Spring and dated at 5200-6800 years ago. Bay West is another Florida site as is Republic Grove in Hardee County, Florida. There are also burials NOT in peat but in WARM MINERAL SPRINGS in Florida and these have been dated at 12,000 years old!! Many Native American tribes in the region believe that the spirits of the dead are blocked by water and it’s theorized that Paleo-Indians may have regularly buried their dead in water up until historical times (about 12 kya).
Unlike the Bog burial sites found in Europe, America’s Bog People have no flesh just bones. What I find interesting about these people is that their DNA shows they were of Asian origins but they are not connected to the more modern Native Americans in the region. What that means is that the more modern Native Americans in the area did NOT descend from Asian stock! So much for the land-bridge theory!! And since we’re on this subject of Asians crossing the Alaskan land-bridge and Native Americans being their descendants……MOST Native Americans do NOT ascribe to this theory at all. In fact, they say their people DID NOT COME FROM ANYWHERE but that they have ALWAYS BEEN HERE! But, in our egocentricism and arrogance we’ve just ignored their claims smuggling thinking we just MUST be right and Native Americans MUST be wrong! I postulate perhaps it is the other way around, frankly!! Perhaps it is time we listen to them instead of our own blind self righteousness and smugness!!
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