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US Mysterious stone structures in North Carolina's rivers linked to prehistoric people

18:36  05 december  2019
18:36  05 december  2019 Source:   charlotteobserver.com

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Evidence of prehistoric people has been discovered hidden on the bottom of North Carolina’s rivers and creeks, but the structures remain a mystery in many ways, according to the N.C. Office of State Archaeology.

This is one of the structures, which were V shaped to funnel fish into a trap or some other means of capture, historians say.© (North Carolina Office of State Archaeology/Google Earth Image/TNS) This is one of the structures, which were V shaped to funnel fish into a trap or some other means of capture, historians say.

The sites look like piles of stones to casual viewers, but archaeologists have determined the structures often form large V or W shaped patterns when seen from above.

It’s believed the structures were traps called fish weirs, according to a state report released last month. Little is known about their origins in part because the structures are “difficult to access and document,” the report says.

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“Dating these features is a challenge since there are few if any elements that can be directly dated,” says David Cranford, assistant state archaeologist with the state office.

“Fish weirs were made and used extensively by American Indian groups prehistorically while others were constructed by early colonists during the historic period. Some weirs were likely constructed prehistorically and later reused ... making them relatively durable, and important places on the cultural landscape.”

Cranford’s report is part of a North Carolina Fish Weirs Archaeological Project that was made public last month at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Jackson, Mississippi. The project aims to create an inventory of suspected weirs, investigate them, and check for evidence of coinciding unknown towns or settlements on nearby river banks.

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This is one of the structures, which were V shaped to funnel fish into a trap or some other means of capture, historians say.© (North Carolina Office of State Archaeology/Google Earth Image/TNS) This is one of the structures, which were V shaped to funnel fish into a trap or some other means of capture, historians say. Some of the sites could end up nominated for National Register of Historic Places, officials say.

Evidence of historic fish weirs has been found in rivers along the Appalachians from Alabama into New York, the report says.

More than 750 suspected stone weirs have been identified in the Southeast, using Google Earth and other sources, the reports says. Closer inspection may reveal some are not weirs, but are ancient “dams, sluiceways, and other cultural features,” Cranford wrote.

“N.C. has the largest number of suspected stone fish weirs (219) ... and has one of the densest concentrations of fish weirs anywhere. The Yadkin/PeeDee River hosts the largest number of fish weirs of any river examined,” the report says.

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Historians believe ancient people built weirs in multiple forms, including versions made of brush, wood and piled stones. The structures are often found in shallow waterways, and experts say they typically “funneled fish into a woven basket trap” or group of individuals with spears.

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This is interesting!