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Archaeologists unearth Manasota period midden at Phillippi Estate Park

On the first day of a two-day excavation, experts find shells that reveal the diets of early Sarasotans.

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  • | 12:08 p.m. January 5, 2016
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Local archaeologists are starting the new year by digging into the past at Phillippi Estate Park. 

Phillippi Estate Park, located at the end of Phillippi Creek is home to one of the more historical residences in Sarasota County the Edson Keith Mansion. But thousands of years before the house was built it was home to some of the first Sarasotans. 

In 1988 shortly after Sarasota County purchased the property to make it into a park archaeologists identified three archaeological sites. 

"We’re trying to understand better the archaeological records of these county-owned lands," said Uzi Baram, professor of anthropology at New College. 

The purpose for the excavation is the outline the largest site on the property known as the Manasota midden that dates to 2,500 years ago to 1,300 years ago. The plot can be at Phillippi Estate Park can be seen from the porch steps of the Edson Keith Mansion. 

"With the centennial of the Edson Keith Mansion, the timing seemed appropriate to reflect on the history of the land," Baram said. "We know from the 1988 excavation basically where the mound actually was. This work today is giving us more precision on the actually delineation of the midden and also giving us more artifacts that give us a better sense of the way of life of these ancient people." 

Baram along with several New College students partnered with Sarasota Count and the Florida Public Archaeology Network to make the excavation possible. 

On the first day of the excavation the team discovered pieces of pottery, remnants of possible tools and shells reveal the lives of natives that inhabited the region during the Manasota Period. The findings help determine how people lived on the land and what the did with their time.

Archaeologists are encouraging members of the public to visit the site during the second day of the excavation from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at Phillippi Estate Park. 

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