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Archaeologists find 9,000-year-old Hunting Drive Lane Under Lake Huron

Apr 29, 2014 10:35 AM EDT
9,000-year-old caribou hunting drive lane
The dotted lines on this bathymetric map indicate the location of a 9,000-year-old caribou hunting drive lane across Lake Huron. (
(Photo : Map courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration))

Archaeologists have found a 9,000-year-old caribou hunting drive lane under the Lake Huron. The hunting site is expected to provide insight into the culture and economy of the people living in the Great Lakes region.

According to the researchers at the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology, the main feature of the hunting site called "Drop 45 Drive Lane" is the most elaborate structure in the area.

The ancient site was found 121 feet under water, about 35 miles southeast of Alpena. The region, according to researchers, was once a strip of dry land that connected northeast Michigan to southern Ontario.

"This site and its associated artifacts, along with environmental and simulation studies, suggest that Late Paleoindian/Early Archaic caribou hunters employed distinctly different seasonal approaches," said John O'Shea, the Emerson F. Greenman Professor of Anthropological Archaeology and lead author of the article. "In autumn, small groups carried out the caribou hunts, and in spring, larger groups of hunters cooperated."

The hunting drive was made of limestone and had two parallel lines of stone leading to a dead-end. The drive even had circular hunting blinds that were built to obstruct the movement of the caribou.

The orientation of Drop 45 shows that the drive was used to hunt animals during autumn as well as spring.

"It is noteworthy that V-shaped hunting blinds located upslope from Drop 45 are oriented to intercept animals moving to the southeast in the autumn," O'Shea said in a news release. "This concentration of differing types of hunting structures associated with alternative seasons of migration is consistent with caribou herd movement simulation data indicating that the area was a convergence point along different migration routes, where the landform tended to compress the animals in both the spring and autumn."

According to O'Shea, chipped stone debris used for repairing stone tools, show that the hunting drive was made by a large group of people.

The study is published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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