MIAMI -

On the site of a future multimillion-dollar retail project known as Met Miami, eight circles have been unearthed with deep connection to Miami's first downtown dwellers, the Tequesta Indians.

County Archeologist Jeff Ransom said the circles outlined with deep holes are definitely the former foundation of Tequesta Indian life.

"What we have at that site is evidence of a Tequesta village, so it's the architectural features that define a village," said Ransom. "It's the holes in the ground that define these circles that were dwellings. Probably the linear features are the platform that connect it, one hut to the next."

The last major Tequesta find downtown has been preserved and is now known as the Miami Circle. This discovery could be the largest site of its kind in the country.

Another major find at the site was the foundation of Miami's first luxury hotel. It was called the Royal Palm Hotel and was built by Henry Flagler, the founding father of the city.

"What is the role of archeology, is it only to bury things so they get to look at it or make it a form of education," said Eugene Stearns, the counsel for the Met Miami Group.

This is the fourth phase of a massive project that consumes several city blocks in downtown Miami. It will house movie theaters, a Whole Foods market and other retail stores.

Project managers have been working since 2005 to retrieve the artifacts, which they have sent over to the HistoryMiami museum. Their architects have already drawn up plans to showcase the history in their new complex.

The city of Miami will ultimately rule on how to mesh the past and future. A first vote will be held at City Hall on Feb. 14.