Robert Carr
Archaeologists uncovered nine circles that may have been residences of the Tequesta.

Illegal Decision Puts Tequesta Native Village Site Under Hotel

Christina Rose

The circles were found beneath a parking lot that was about 500 by 500 feet, and at the original shoreline. Carr said the circles could have been habitation structures. “The whole town appears to have been elevated,” Carr said.

Jeff Ransom, County Archaeologist for Miami - Dade County, said, “There were platforms and residences connected by boardwalks, and there were lots of fish bones, shark teeth, and conch shells at the site; they were tapping into the coastal resources. The significant aspect is the architectural features carved into the bedrock. You just don’t find that, and here we have perfectly preserved features that are 2,000 years old. It’s amazing that we still have it.”

For a city as densely built as Miami, Carr said the site is amazingly intact. Many other sites have been destroyed by construction and except for the parking lot, there are no other undeveloped areas in the city.

A diagram of the Tequesta site. (Robert Carr)

“You have a robust downtown for more than 100 years, and except for a portion which was the Royal Palm Hotel (Miami’s first hotel built in 1897) the asphalt preserved it,” Carr said.

As the mediated plan exists, most of the site will remain under the building, with one section destroyed. There will be a crawl space available to archaeologists, but it is unlikely that exploration will continue. If the building were ever to come down, the site could be uncovered for future discovery.

Gregory Bush, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Public History, University of Miami and associate professor of history, feels more could have been done to preserve the site for the public. “One of the biggest and grandest circles will be covered with concrete. It is the home of the Tequesta, heart of the Seminole Wars, Fort Dallas was here, the Royal Palm Hotel.”

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