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Tue Apr 29, 2014, 04:42 PM

Ancient hunting camp found beneath Lake Huron

Deep below the surface of Lake Huron, scuba-diving researchers have found an elaborate network of hunting blinds and animal-herding structures dating back roughly 9,000 years.

Lake levels of the day were some 250 feet lower, exposing a narrow bridge of land running from one side of Huron to the other. Prehistoric people evidently thought this isthmus was a perfect place to intercept caribou on their seasonal migrations. The hunting site they built, now inundated, opens a window onto prehistoric America and provides valuable evidence in a region where such artifacts are practically non-existent.

If the hunting structures “were on solid ground, (they) probably would’ve been bulldozed away for a Walmart parking lot by now,” says archaeologist Alan Osborn of the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the University of Nebraska State Museum, who was not part of the discovery team. Underwater archaeology is expensive, but “in this case, it’s revealing a site that’s in pretty much pristine condition.”

Serendipity, the researcher’s friend, is to thank for this discovery as well. A half-dozen years ago, the federal government published new maps showing Lake Huron’s underwater ridge, which runs from northeastern Michigan to southern Ontario, as archaeologist John O’Shea was reading a book about Siberian reindeer herders, who laid down brush to direct their animals’ path. O’Shea, of the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, and his colleagues decided to take a long shot and look for similar features on Huron’s underwater ridge.



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