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Oil spill threatens prehistoric sites

That crazy gulf coast oil spill is theatening prehistoric archaeolgical sites along the Gulf Coast.

Noel Stowe said there are about 1,000 sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, many of which have never been explored. Similar sites are in other Gulf Coast states, he said.

The sites, called shell middens, are where prehistoric Gulf Coast residents lived and left the remains of their meals such as oyster shells and other daily items, he said.

At a site in Gautier, Stowe readily found pottery chards and a rock with a sharpened edge.

“Biological resources can recover and archaeological resources cannot,” said Stowe.

“We are looking at shell middens that are right in the littoral drift along the coast and once oil gets in them they are destroyed,” he said. “They become toxic dumps and they can’t be carbon-14 dated.”

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