9,000-Year-Old Caribou Hunting Site Discovered Beneath Lake Huron

Posted on May 1, 2014

Scientists discovered a 9,000-year-old caribou hunting site beneath Lake Huron. An image of the hunting site, known as Drop 45 Lane, is pictured above. A stacked stone hunting blind at the site is pictured below. An article about the site was published the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

John O'Shea, the Emerson F. Greenman Professor of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the paper, says, "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. In autumn, small groups carried out the caribou hunts, and in spring, larger groups of hunters cooperated."

The hunting site was discovered on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge, under 121 feet of water, about 35 miles southeast of Alpena, Mich. This area was once a dry land corridor connection northeast Michigan and southern Ontario. The main feature of the site is called Drop 45 Lane. The stone lane was constructed on level limestone bedrock. It is comprised of two parallel lines of stones leading toward a cul-de-sac formed by the natural cobble pavement. Three circular hunting blinds are built into the stone lines. There are also additional stone alignments that may have served as blinds and obstructions for corralling caribou.

O'Shea says, "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. 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."

O'Shea also discovered a 5.5-foot-long prehistoric spear at the bottom of Lake Huron in 2011. Take a look:

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