A resident of Florida made a surprising discovery the other day, when a dugout canoe was unearthed by the passing Hurricane Irma.
In a rare bit of good news from the storm, Randy Lathrop posted images of the canoe on Facebook. The 15-foot (4.5-meter) canoe was pulled from the water by the storm, and may date back hundreds of years. He said an archaeologist had documented the artifact, and it might be stored for public viewing in the future.
“I got to it before it was picked up by the country with all the other storm debris and placed in a landfill,” he said in a Facebook post.
Lathrop found the canoe washed up from the Indian River, north of Cocoa in Florida. Using carbon dating, it's hoped that the exact age of the canoe can be nailed down.
He told ABC News that it might have weighed anywhere between 320 and 450 kilograms (700 and 1,000 pounds), and had been water soaked for years. “It looked just like a log,” Lathrop said. “My main concern was to secure it from harm’s way.”
The canoe has a square shape, in addition to having square iron nails, which may date back to the 18th Century. According to the Florida Division of Historical Resources, who documented the finding, the construction of the canoe was unusual.
“Overall, its appearance and the presence of a cut nail suggests it is not a precontact canoe,” they wrote in a Facebook update. “In other words, it is maximum several hundred years old and minimum probably several decades old.”
More than 400 archeological dugouts have been found in Florida, with canoes like this being previously discovered in constantly wet or dry environments. The artifact now belongs to the state and, if determined to be historic, it will be preserved and displayed locally.