Walking in the Footsteps of the Ancients

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, March 26, 2007

My most recent travels in Central Florida brought me to Crystal River, home of Florida's Manatees, adorable creatures that live in the springs around the river, swimming and frolicking and often times getting cut by boat propellers.
The Manatees are commonly referred to as Sea Cows because of their size and look, and they are another of Florida's treasures that must be preserved. I have spent a good deal of time with Manatees, which is another story, but this time, I was looking for something else. I was heading back to my roots as an anthropologist and to the roots of Florida's ancient past; this brought me to
The Crystal River Archaeological State Park.
I was feeling inspired by the story I wrote about my time with the Navajos and as the history of Native peoples has always fascinated me, I wanted to see what the Archaeological State Park had to offer.
The park which is surrounded by the Crystal River Preserve State Park, is one of the longest continuously occupied pre-Columbian sites in Florida; it was a ceremonial center for Florida's ancient peoples for 1, 600 years. This pre-Columbian, Native American site houses a six mound complex of burial mounds, temple mounds and a plaza area, where people stood to watch the ceremonies taking place on the various mounds. It is estimated that as many as 7, 500 Native people had visited the complex every year that it was in use. It is known through archaeological investigation that these mounds were used to bury some of their dead and they also had ceremonial significance, however not much else is known about the area, and it will take much more research and understanding to discover the full scope of the significance of these mounds for Florida's ancient peoples.

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