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Contact: Contact: Mark Ard

What They’re Saying: 7,000-Year-Old Site in the Gulf of Mexico

Tallahassee, Fla. –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Wednesday that archaeological investigations identified an unprecedented 7,000-year-old Native American ancestral burial site in the Gulf of Mexico near Venice. Local partners share their thoughts about the discovery and their plans for preservation of the Manasota Key Offshore (MKO) archaeological site.

Dr. Mark S. Pritchett, President|CEO, Gulf Coast Community Foundation: “It is stunning to think that this special site has weathered hurricanes and the shifting currents of the Gulf of Mexico for more than 7,000 years. Gulf Coast Community Foundation is bringing together local organizations so that our community can assist in preserving and protecting the site while educating the public on its significance. It has been a wonderful partnership with the State of Florida, our county government, the Seminole Tribe, neighborhoods, and local cultural, historical, and educational organizations.”

Dr. Heather Walsh-Haney, Forensic Anthropologist and Justice Studies Program Leader for Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU): “My graduate students and I are committed to helping the Division of Historical Resources and the Tribal Historic Preservation Office preserve this sacred area through collaboration. To my knowledge, this is the first project of its kind to include the perspective of a forensic anthropologist in the stewardship plan. Furthermore, I am grateful to be part of a project where our FGCU students have field experiences that exist nowhere else.”

Dr. David W. Morgan, Director of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Southeast Archeological Center: “The Manasota Key Offshore site reminds us that important cultural resources remain to be identified and protected along the continental shelf. This site, and others like it, are priceless and unique places that tell us about the human experience. The excellent preservation at some submerged sites, like MKO, can offer us unique perspectives on the human past. The NPS applauds the efforts of the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research to document, protect, and interpret these unique cultural resources that are of such state and national importance.”

Steve Koski, Sarasota County Archaeologist: "The Manasota Key Offshore site is one of the most unique, significant, and interesting prehistoric archaeological sites for its type and time period. It demonstrates that prehistoric sites as old as 7,000 years old can survive the rising waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its survival has implications for the discovery and study of other submerged sites along our coastlines. These fragile resources, threated by continued erosion and human impacts such as dredging and artifact collecting, deserve the same protection and management considerations as those sites on land [especially those containing human remains]. 

Jeffrey T. Moates, M.A., RPA, Director, West Central & Central Regional Centers Florida Public Archaeology Network, University of South Florida, Department of Anthropology:

"The Manasota Key Offshore archaeological site is another one of Florida's unique places discovered by concerned citizens who ultimately brought it to the attention of State archaeologists. Because of their actions the duty to protect, preserve, and honor this ancient burial place now rests upon all of us. With our coastlines under constant change, more and more the public will continue to be looked upon as the frontline of a useful partnership when communicating the benefits of knowing and learning about these amazing places."  

Jackie Ruthman, President, Manasota Key Association: “The residents of Manasota Key are enthralled by this incredible discovery right off their beachfront. We look forward to working with the State of Florida and Gulf Coast Community Foundation to help protect and preserve this significant site. The Manasota Key Association is prepared to play an active role informing and educating the local residents about this historical treasure.”