The Submerged Secrets of North America's First Inhabitants


| LAST UPDATE 04/07/2023

By Stanley Wickens
North America underwater prehistory
Anadolu Agency / Contributor via Getty Images

The first humans to inhabit North America left behind a wealth of clues about their lives, but much of this evidence is hidden underwater. Archaeologists are now using advanced technology to uncover these submerged prehistory sites and gain insight into the lives of North America’s first inhabitants.

From Florida to Alaska, archaeologists have discovered hundreds of archaeological sites that were once on dry land but are now submerged due to sea level rise. These sites contain artifacts such as stone tools, pottery shards, and animal bones that provide clues about how people lived thousands of years ago. In the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, researchers have found evidence of ancient fishing camps that date back more than 5,000 years. In Alaska’s Prince William Sound, they have discovered an ancient village site with artifacts dating back more than 8,000 years.

Diver and Mayan Remains
Michele Westmorland Via Gettimages
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The most important clues from these underwater sites are the remains of plants and animals that early humans used for food or other purposes. These remains can tell us what kinds of resources were available to them and how they adapted to their environment over time. Researchers in Florida’s Gulf Coast region have found evidence that early humans ate shellfish such as oysters and clams and fish like red drum and snook. This suggests that they had access to a wide variety of aquatic resources, allowing them to survive in this environment for thousands of years.

In addition to providing clues about what early humans ate, underwater archaeological sites can also tell us how they interacted with each other and the environment around them. For instance, researchers have found evidence at some sites suggesting that early humans may have engaged in trade with other groups or had some spiritual beliefs related to water bodies such as rivers or lakes. Archaeologists are also using advanced technology such as sonar imaging and remote sensing devices to locate submerged archaeological sites and map them in detail so they can be studied further. This technology has enabled researchers to find new sites all over North America and learn more about the lives of its first inhabitants than ever before. As our understanding grows it becomes increasingly clear just how much we can learn from studying these underwater prehistory sites. By uncovering the secrets hidden beneath the waves we can gain valuable insights into the lives of North America’s first inhabitants and better understand our shared history as a continent.

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