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Prehistoric hunting wall discovered in Lake Huron

Courtesy: University of Michigan

Courtesy: University of Michigan

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 6:57 AM - A recent discovery by underwater archaeologists has shed new light on how people lived in the Great Lakes region near the end of the Ice Age.

Sophisticated hunting walls have been discovered in Lake Huron between northern Michigan and southern Ontario, the University of Michigan has announced.

The 9,000 year-old lanes appear to have been used to drive caribou --  providing evidence of prehistoric hunts that took place in the area.

"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," lead author John O'Shea says in a statement.

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"In autumn, small groups carried out the caribou hunts, and in spring, larger groups of hunters cooperated."

Underwater archaeologists made the discovery on Lake Huron's Alpena-Amberley Ridge under 121 feet of water on what was once a dry land corridor connecting northeast Michigan and southern Ontario.

Scientists say the main feature, dubbed the Drop 45 Drive Lane, is the most complex hunting structure found beneath the Great Lakes to date.

The limestone structure is comprised of two parallel lines of stones that lead to a cul-de-sac lined with natural cobble.

Three circular hunting blinds are built inside the stone lines with additional alignments that were most likely used to corral caribou.

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"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 says. 

"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." 

Researchers say the structures around Drop 45, in addition to the presence of chipped debris from repairing stone tools, provide "unambiguous evidence" for the intentions of the hunting wall, he adds.

The complete findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

All photos courtesy of University of Michigan

NOAA bathymetric map with Alpena-Amberley Ridge highlighted by dashed lines (courtesy: NOAA/University of Michigan)

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