Spring cleanup yields cornucopia of history

Chassahowitzka spring

To the untrained eye, many of the hundreds of artifacts pulled in recent months from a Florida spring in the Chassahowitzka River look like stuff nobody wanted to buy at a yard sale: old bottles, an antler, broken pieces of a plate, a toy cap gun, a bowl, a fishhook, pins.

But to archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot, who oversaw a five-month project that pulled hundreds of such items from a 2 1/2-acre field of muck as deep as 25 feet below the surface of the spring, they are much more.

"We found an amazing array of artifacts that basically represent every period of human occupation in Florida," he told CNN in a telephone interview.

The finds were a side benefit of a project funded by the state to clean the spring -- located 90 minutes north of Tampa -- and thereby improve its flow and water quality.
The spring in the Chassahowitzka, which is Seminole for "place of the hanging pumpkins," attracts tourists, canoeists and fans of fishing.

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