FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Crews continued Thursday to excavate part of Fort Lauderdale beach after several artifacts were found there two weeks ago.
Construction crews working on a $3.1 million beach park project along A1A made the significant archaeological discovery that could date back as far as 1839.
The workers were digging a channel for a drainage pipe two weeks ago when they found about 100 artifacts. City representatives said the discoveries included at least 20 musket balls, lead slag from the manufacture of musket balls, military buttons and a kaolin pipe bowl from about 1838-1842, as well as other artifacts from the 1890s and from the World War II Coast Guard base.
"The thought is maybe this has something to do with the fort we had over here back in the pre-Civil War era," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.
Officials said several 19th-cetury cooking pits and a trash pit containing sea turtle and fish bones, iron nails and broken plates were found, as well.
One of the three original Fort Lauderdales was located near the site.
"The beach fort was mainly used as a staging area for what we would call marines to chase the Seminoles into the hinterlands, into the Everglades," said Fort Lauderdale historian Susan Gillis.
Since the discovery, archaeologists have used metal detectors and sifted through the sand, looking for more relics. Renowned archaeologist Bob Carr, who worked on the Miami Circle site, was brought in to oversee the dig.
The first item recovered Thursday was a long, rusted spike.
Carr is still analyzing the artifacts and should release his findings soon. He told Local 10 there are several items that still need to be cleaned and catalogued.
"Here we are, celebrating our centennial. We are talking about our past and our history, and then we find out right around the same time they made this discovery," Seiler said.
The information could help historians travel back in time, but perhaps the most amazing thing is that the stretch of beach where the relics were found has been paved over and developed several times.
"In addition to all the hurricanes we have had, the beach sand has been turned up quite a bit, so it is really thrilling to be able to find any artifacts that remind us of our heritage," Gillis said.
On Thursday afternoon, city leaders planned to show the media some of the artifacts that were discovered earlier in the excavation.
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