New York-Size Ancient Native City Offers an 'Indiana Jones Moment'

More details about the massive archaeological site at Mantle, subject of the documentary The Curse of the Axe

As more details emerge about the ancient city dubbed Mantle, near Toronto, Ontario, it is becoming clear that this is one of the major archaeological discoveries ever made in North America.

Canadian television viewers got an introduction to the story on Monday night via the documentary The Curse of the Axe, but a report from LiveScience.com tells more. Lead archaeologist Ron Williamson calls Mantle "the largest, most complex, cosmopolitan village of its time" and describes the discoveries as "an Indiana Jones moment."

The site was occupied sometime around 1500 by the Wendat Huron; in and around the 98 longhouses thus far discovered, excavations have turned up some 200,000 artifacts. Williamson said the population is estimated to have been between 1,500 and 1,800, living in an area the size of Manhattan. With an annual need of 7,000 deer hides, the people of Mantle would have hunted over an area extending 26 miles in all directions from the settlement.

In the documentary, as quoted by LiveScience, researcher Jennifer Birch says that "When you think about a site like Mantle, 2,000 people, massive stockade around a community, a better analogy is that of a medieval town. ... While the cultures are very different, the societal form really isn't."

LiveScience.com also has a fascinating gallery of items recovered from the site.