Photographs of Artifacts & Historical Information

Showing Reverence. Florida's first people. Artist: Marisa Renz
(available in Gift Shop)

Simpson (Paleo) Point. 11,000 years old.

Pendant crafted from a 5 million year-old extinct giant white shark tooth.

Bone pin, probably from a deer cannon bone.

Hernando Point. 1,800 to 2,500 years old

Citrus Point. Possible knife form of Hernando point. DeSoto County, FL.

Thonotosassa Point. Thrusting spear, dagger or knife. Peace River, FL.

Ceremonial axe head. Probably a traded item as this type of stone is not native to Florida. Pine Island, FL. This artifact was donated to the Florida Museum of Natural History and is on display in their archaeology section.


Excerpted from

"Fossiling in Florida: A Guide for Diggers and Divers,"

by Mark Renz
Reprinted by permission - University Press of Florida

The role of early humans in Pleistocene extinctions

When did the first humans arrive in Florida? How did they get here? What was their role in the demise of many prehistoric animals now extinct in our state? How did Paleo humans survive in Florida? What effect did climatic and environmental changes of 10,000 to 15,000 years ago have on the vegetation and wildlife, as well as the lifestyle of these early settlers?

Since 1983, a small, ever-changing group of die-hard professional and amateur scientists worked for a couple of months each year on what became known as the Aucilla River Prehistory Project. Cosponsored by the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Department of State's Division of Historical Resources, and the National Geographic Society, the project attempted to answer some of these questions.

The unspoiled Aucilla River begins its 69-mile flow to the Gulf of Mexico in southern Georgia. A favorite waterway for canoists in Florida's Big Bend, the river forms the boundary between Jefferson and Taylor counties. But long before the river was considered a recreational getaway by modern man, it had an extensive history of human habitation.

Here is what the project turned up:

  • Seventy-five archaeological sites exist in or near the Aucilla River.
  • More than 3,000 bone, stone and wood artifacts have been recovered from underwater sights near Nuttall Rise alone.
  • An 11,000 year-old Bison antiquus skull found in the Aucilla, provided the inspiration for the project. Embedded in the skull was a broken spear tip.
  • A 12,000-year-old, seven-and-a-half-foot mastodon tusk was found with butcher marks, suggesting it was cut out of the animal's skull with stone knives, possibly for ivory to make tools. The site is the earliest known "butcher" shop in North America. Because the tusks are 700 years older than any site so far uncoverd in the western United States, scientists wonder if humans may have migrated to lower latitudes through an eastern passage rather than the far West as traditionally thought.
  • One of the world's richest collections of prehistoric-worked ivory was dontated to the Florida Museum of Natural History by Dr. Richard Ohmes and his son, Donald. Found in the Aucilla and Wacissa, the finds include a complete ivory foreshaft pin bearing a decorative design on each side. It is the oldest artwork in North America.
  • While the tossed and tumbled sediments along most of Florida's river and creek beds make it tough to accurately date bones and other material, the Aucilla holds a well-layered and preserved record of time.
  • Well-preserved mastodon dung has been collected shedding light on this unique proboscidian's diet, as well as providing additional proof of the site's outstanding preservative qualities. DNA and the steroids have been extracted from this material.
  • From sediment samples which sometimes contain seeds, leaves, and twigs, paleobotanists have already been able to decipher weather patterns, determine when a plant or tree began growing in this part of the world, and when it altered its form or died out altogether.

The Aucilla's numerous sites continue to offer scientists a chance to search for in-place human artifacts to more accurately date the approximate century--even the season--they were last used. We know that humans had at least a minor role in forcing some of the larger prehistoric mammals into extinction because they were all creatures we hunted. But it's still too early to determine if our role was a major one, or if environmental changes may have brought on the mass extinctions.

Perhaps we will soon find out exactly what wiped out such unusual animals as saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths. Or we will discover precisely when humans first entered peninsular Florida and from which direction. When all is said and done, maybe we'll discover that the earliest residents were snowbirds from Ohio, and that their first observation was how much better things were in the North.

Flint chopping tool, Gilchrist County, FL.

Archaeology - Continued

Exploring the Eternal Suwannee River

Archaeology Laws