By Ted Scouten

FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH (CBS4) – When construction crews began digging up the parking lot of South Beach Park on Fort Lauderdale Beach, they ended up digging up a lot of South Florida history.

Many of the items discovered were left behind left behind by the Tequesta Indians. But now, the big dig for history is moving up the street, to the Bonnet House at Fort Lauderdale Beach and Sunrise Blvd. There can be some huge, exciting finds there.

“There’s never been a bulldozer,” explained Stephen Draft, Curator of Bonnet House, “never heavy machinery; so if there were artifacts left from the Tequestas or European explorers, they are a few inches below the surface and they’re still there.”

In a dig a few years ago, scientists found the conch shells, dating back to the early 1500’s.

“What’s incredible about the Bonnet House is we actually found evidence of the earliest exploration site, historic site, ever found in Southern Florida,” Craft said.

One item that really caught their eye was a conch shell with an inch long, straight gash.

“This one has a gash in it,” said Draft, “very straight, caused by a metal implement, the Tequestas did not have metal tools.”

The Spaniards were coming to Florida then, but making this a bigger mystery is that this probably was not done by them either.

“The Spanish also knew how to open conch, they had learned that in the Caribbean, from the spiral end, so this probably was not Spanish,” he said. “So it tells us someone besides Spanish explorers were probably here. “

Scientists wonder if the British or Dutch may have been here on the Bonnet House grounds. They’re hoping to dig up clues that could solve the mystery and give us a better glimpse of our past.

Plans for that next dig are underway right now. Archaeologists should find out more about when it’s going to happen later on in the month.


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