Monday, June 15, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Hunting grounds under Lake Huron
'U' researchers find
100 feet deep
By STEPHANIE STEINBERG
Daily News Editor
University researchers recently
announced the groundbreakingdis-
covery of archaeological remains
under the surface of Lake Huron -
the first such find on the bottom of
the Great Lakes.
The researchers found caribou
hunting structures and camps pre-
served 100 feet deep in a location
100 miles wide in Lake Huron.
John O'Shea, curator of Great
Lakes Archaeology in the Museum
of Anthropology and a professor in
the Department of Anthropology,
said the area - which spreads from
Point Clark, Ontario to Presque Isle,
Mich. - was dry land 10,000 years
"It would have been a place where
earlyhunters would havebeen occu-
pying and where you would have had
caribou migrating," O'Shea said.
The researchers discovered lines
of boulders and rocks, called drive
lanes, on the lake floor that hunters
used to attract caribou, which natu-
rally follow lines.
Instead of building traps or stam-
peding caribou off cliffs, O'Shea said
hunters made lines - some about
350 meters long - on land that is
now below the lake's surface.
"You can guide the animals into
an area, then, where you step up
an ambush and where you attack
them," he said.
The group also discovered piles
of rocks, which they believe hunt-
ers crouched behind while waiting
Although many people have
looked for sites like these, O'Shea
said no one had ever found any
under the Great Lakes.
O'Shea studied caribou hunting
sites preserved in the arctic and
used them as examples for finding
similar ones underwater.
"We knew about these arctic
examples, and so we kind of knew
what the sights ought to look like,
and that made it a lot easier then to
find them," he said.
A few years ago, a team includ-
ing O'Shea, Guy Meadows, direc-
tor of the Marine Hydrodynamics
Laboratories and a professor in the
departments of Naval Architecture
and Marine Engineering and Atmo-
spheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
and Robert Reynolds, professor of
computer science at Wayne State
University, began simulating cari-
bou migrations and making a model
of what the area below Lake Huron
would have looked like as dry land.
Based on the reconstruction, the
group chose three areas to research.
Last fall, the team received a
grant from the National Science
Foundation to investigate the areas
usingsite scan sonar equipment and
remote operated vehicles that cap-
ture images underwater.
"(The vehicles) have a low light
video camera, and you drive them
using a joystick like a computer
game," O'Shea said.
Most recently, the team has
employed archaeologists trained in
scuba diving to investigate the site.
O'Shea said the scuba divers have
identified large projections of rocks
embedded with layers of chirt,
which is a raw material people used
to make tools.
"We're thinking this may be a site
where people would have quarried
stone for their stone tools," he said.
Rackham student Eric Rupley
will be joining the team of scuba div-
ers at the end of the summer. He said
he's excited to be able to participate
in the cutting edge exploration.
"When we get down there we get
into primary data that answers a
series of questions of this time peri-
od and history of America that we
have little information of," Rupley
O'Shea said the discoveries made
at the site provide researchers the
opportunity to learn about the era
in the Great Lakes region when
early big game hunters first came to
North America from Asia.
"It's a time period in North
American pre-history when really
important things happened, and yet
we don't have any direct evidence
of how they happened," he said.
"The sites under the lake offera real
potential to tell us about this time
period that we can't find out about
any other way."
O'Shea added that the animals
and artifacts found at the few hunt-
ing sites in northern forests have
been mostly destroyed bythe acid in
soil, while the water from the lake
preserves organic material.
"All kinds of things that you
wouldn't be able to find on a ter-
restrial site you have the potential
to find them in the lake," he said.
"It's almost like a Pompeii, but with
water instead of lava."
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