What began as routine construction for a shopping mall near Seattle has turned into a major archaeological find.
Before it became the site of the Redmond Town Center mall, the region around Bear Creek was apparently a hub of ancient activity. Excavations yielded more than 4,000 tools that were at least 10,000 years old.
“We were pretty amazed,” said archaeologist and field investigation leader Robert Kopperl to The Seattle Times, of the stone flakes, scrapers, awls and spear points that were unearthed earlier this year. “This is the oldest archaeological site in the Puget Sound lowland with stone tools.”
Bear Creek, a tributary to the Sammamish River that flows past the mall, was being restored to recreate salmon habitat back in 2009 when the initial surveying was done, The Seattle Times reported. The more they dug, the more they found. And finally, buried under a layer of peat bog, the tools came to light.
“We knew right away that it was a pretty significant find,” said Washington State Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks to The Seattle Times.
The findings were published earlier this year in PaleoAmerica, peer-reviewed quarterly journal focusing on the Pleistocene era, during the last major ice age, and published in conjunction with the Center for the Study of the First Americans.
City officials worked with the Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie tribes, the newspaper said, to preserve and protect the site. Once analyzed, the artifacts will be returned to the Muckleshoot Tribe to be curated, since the items most likely belonged to their ancestors.
Read the fascinating 10,000-Year-Old Stone Tools Unearthed in Redmond Dig in The Seattle Times.