A discovery that helps tell the story of people who hunted caribou in the Great Lakes region 9,000 years ago was unearthed at the bottom of Lake Huron.
Archeological remains of hunting blinds and other structures built by aboriginal caribou hunters were found underwater 56 kilometers from shore by sonar and dive teams lead by the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology archeologist John O’Shea and colleagues per CBC.
The intricate hunting setup seems to suggest that large groups of hunters congregated here and hunted caribou together each spring, the researchers reported in a paper published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“For mobile hunters, this is a really valuable time, because they share information, they trade, they have marriages, they do all these things that you only do when you get a critical mass of people together,” O’Shea said during a phone interview with CBC News Monday.
“This is, I think, giving us a really unique picture of what that whole annual cycle was that these hunters were following.”
The discovery also assisted with filling in a gap in the archeological record, O’Shea said.
Those 9,000 years ago, glaciers were retreating and water levels in the Great Lakes were as much as 100 meters lower than they are presently. Lowlands tend to be a richer hunting ground, which means that most areas where these people lived at the time are now water.
The caribou hunting site found at Lake Huron was part of a land bridge separating two lakes and connecting the tundra landscapes of Ontario and Michigan.
“It must have been really cold and really windy and pretty unpleasant,” O’Shea said.
Divers also sifted the sediment along the drive lanes and the cul-de-sac and in the hunting blinds discovering stone flakes that would have been left behind during the building of spearheads and other tools.
Since the site is now completely submerged underwater, it made it difficult for archeologists to access, however it did allow for the hunting structures to be preserved in a way they otherwise wouldn’t have been, O’Shea said.
O’Shea said his team is now looking underwater at Lake Huron for the caribou hunter’s ancient campsites.
“If we can find campsites, we’ll find a lot more information about the people themselves.”