Led by John O’Shea, an archaeologist at the University of Michigan, the team found a series of stonewalls located 37-meters beneath Lake Huron that they believe was once the site of a hunting camp constructed by the region’s paleo-Indians.
Believed to be built around the end of the Ice Age, when the water was about 100-meters lower than today’s levels, the structures were constructed on a ridge of land that runs between Alpena, Mich. and Point Clark, Ont. That narrow corridor was a main route for the huge herds of caribou as they migrated in the spring and fall.
Aware that the ridge was a popular path for roaming caribou, local hunters constructed two parallel walls of boulders to create a narrower path that was just 30 meters long and eight meters wide. When the caribou entered the path, they were met by a dead end and were then ambushed by hunters. V-shaped hunting blinds were also found along the path, suggesting a network of hunters used the grounds. In fact, O’Shea believes small bands of people from different areas may have joined together for the communal hunt.
Although to the average eye, the findings can merely resemble algae-covered boulders, O’Shea says it’s obvious that the structures were deliberate and well-thought out.
“(It) was a much more complex, much more organized, multi-part hunting structure,” O’Shea told the Canadian Press. “It was just unmistakable what you’re looking at.”
As the first people to live in the New World, there is little knowledge of the hunting and gathering people who inhabited the area long before modern Aboriginals.
O’Shea and his team has been studying the area since 2008, but this recent breakthrough, which was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, is his greatest discovery yet.
“We found it a little bit by accident,” he told the Canadian Press. “We were doing this scanning sonar work to try to map these other features and this stuff appears in real time on your computer screen as you’re mapping and suddenly it’s like, ‘Oh my God. What is this?”‘
“It’s just way more complex than anything we’ve seen before.”