The Archaeologists Saving Miami's History From the Sea

 

The Archaeologists Saving Miami's History From the Sea

Archaeology Miami illustration
 

When Hurricane Irma sprinted toward Miami-Dade County, Jeff Ransom couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t just worried about gusts shattering windows, or sheets of rain drowning the highway—that’s far from unusual near his home in Broward County, where extreme weather verges on routine, and patches of U.S. 1 are regularly submerged.

Ransom, the county archaeologist, was preoccupied with an oak tree and its 350-year-old roots. If the tree capsized with enough intensity, he worried, the flailing roots could dislodge human remains.

On a blazing blue morning in early November, weeks after the storm, we trek to the site of the Tequesta Native American burial mound that kept Ransom awake.

“All night long, I was just thinking about that oak tree flipping over,” he says. “The big roots are growing right into the burial mound. That would’ve just blown human bone everywhere.”