In Situ Cutler Fossil Site

The Cutler Fossil Site features in two of Bailly’s large paintings. Venus de Miami is the first painting ever made of the Cutler Fossil Site. Persephone de Miami explores the relationship between past and present and the land of the dead and the land of the living.

“The oldest archeological site in Southeast Florida is the Cutler Fossil Site at the Deering Estate. The Cutler Fossil Site was discovered in 1985 by amateur fossil collectors when they climbed into a 5 by 6 m sinkhole on the Charles Deering Estate in Miami-Dade County (Carr 1986, 1987). Excavation of 22 square meters of the site by archeologists and study by paleontologists documented a late Pleistocene Rancholabrean fossil deposit, including remains of extinct vertebrates like the dire wolf, cave bear, sabertooth cat, horse, mastodon and mammoth (Emslie and Morgan 1995). Interestingly, paleoecological analysis, based on the species present, suggest that a hardwood hammock and/or pinelands existed near the sinkhole around 15,000 years ago, similar to modern conditions. Carr (1986) describes three areas of human activity at the site, including a deposit of burned limestone boulders and faunal bone; a deeper deposit with some human remains in association with extinct animal bones; and one area that may contain the intentional burials of several individuals. Emslie and Morgan (1995) describe this burial area, noting that human remains, representing three adults and two children were recovered from the deposit, about 1 m below the surface. The area of burned limestone and faunal bone produced one radiocarbon date of 9,670 +/- 120 years B.P. and stone tools reminiscent of the Early Archaic Dalton complex. Emslie and Morgan(1995:81) suggest the human remains found even lower in the deposits, in associated with the remains of extinct animals like the dire wolf, may be mixed from upper strata. The Cutler Fossil Site is very significant in its contribution to our understanding of early environments in southeastern Florida and remains as the only site with evidence for occupation of the area during the Early Archaic.” National Register of Historic Places

07 August 2021

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