Excavation begins at Vero Beach

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To a casual passer-by, the excavators working Monday near the County Administration Building adjacent to Aviation Blvd. may not have looked like much.

Excavation begins at Vero Beach
Members of the archaeological team from Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute watch from inside the pit as excavators remove layers of soil Monday from the Old Vero Man site in Vero Beach [Credit: Christopher Arnold]

But to Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee Treasurer Nancy Thayer, it was “like fairyland” seeing the digging finally taking place.

Around 1915, dredging at the site unearthed human remains possibly 13,000 years old, along with the remains of extinct animals including mammoth, mastodon, saber-tooth cat and ancient species of tapir, horse and sloth. At the time, experts disagreed about the age of the bones and whether they proved man and animal existed in the area before the ice age. This effort may help confirm what was found in 1915.

The committee hired Andrew Hemmings from Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pa., to lead the dig and is paying for the $450,000 excavation in partnership with Mercyhurst, which is contributing $200,000 plus all of the analytical work at a reduced cost.

On Monday, the heavy equipment removed layers of soil irrelevant to the archaeology of the area, but which had been used to build up the site that sits near Main Relief Canal.

From there, said site manager Dann Jacobus, archaeologists will continue digging with shovels. Researchers have until June 1, the beginning of hurricane season, to work at the site, Jacobus said.

Author: Christopher Arnold | Source: TCPalm [January 06, 2014]

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