A construction worker is clearing a path through a Florida bog known as the Windover pond when his digger unearths something macabre: a human skull. The preservation of the skull suggests someone who died just years ago but when carbon dating results return the archaeological world is stunned. The skull belonged to someone over 7000 years old - twice as old as the pyramids.
"Unique" is not a word any writer should use lightly; and truly "unique" archaeological sites are few and far between. I don\'t mean the oldest sites or the sites with the most golden artifacts, I mean the the kind of sites that the more you learn about them, the more startling and fascinating they become. The Early Middle Archaic Windover Bog site, a pond cemetery on Florida's Atlantic coast near Cape Canaveral, is just one of those sites.
Windover Bog was a pond cemetery for hunter-gatherers, people who lived hunting game and gathering vegetable material between about 8120-6990 years ago. The burials were staked down in the soft mud of the pond, and over the years at least 168 people were buried there, men, women, and children. Today that pond is a peat bog, and, as you probably know, preservation in peat bogs can be quite astonishing. While the burials at Windover were not as well preserved as those of European bog bodies, 91 of the individuals buried contained bits of brain matter still intact enough for scientists to retrieve DNA.
Most interesting, however, is the recovery of 87 samples of weaving, basketry, wood working and clothing, providing us more information on the perishable artifacts of Middle Archaic people in the American southeast than archaeologists ever dreamed possible. Four kinds of close twining, one kind of open twining, and one type of plaiting can be seen in the mats, bags, and basketry recovered from the site. Clothing woven by the inhabitants of Windover Bog on looms included hoods and burial shrouds, as well as some fitted clothing and many rectangular or squarish clothing articles.
All evidence was suggesting this ancient tribe were caring, compassionate and peaceful yet they were about to make another shocking discovery that hinted at something darker: one skeleton had been the victim of a gruesome decapitation. Now archaeologist Glen Doran is applying cutting edge science to solve this riddle of the dead.