Prehistoric Canoe found at Weedon Island Preserve
The public is now invited to view the 1,100-year-old canoe in the Welcome Center.
In 2011, archaeologists and volunteers excavated an ancient dugout canoe from the shoreline of Weedon Island Preserve. The canoe was first discovered by a local resident in 2001. Initial arrangements to document and investigate the canoe, revealed a pine dugout canoe measuring 12.17 meters (39.9 feet), from bow to broken stern. The Weedon Island canoe is far longer than any other dugout found in Florida and is the only one directly associated with a saltwater environment. The canoe has suffered damage from mangrove roots and oyster growth, and the sides are deteriorated.
Radiocarbon testing yielded a date of AD 690 – 1010. The makers of the canoe are considered to belong to the Manasota culture, a prehistoric Native American people who hunted and fished the bay, leaving shell mounds along the coast. Interpretation on how the canoe was used is under study and analysis at this time.
Friends of Weedon Island and the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education are partners in the preservation of the canoe, a lengthy and expensive process. A specially constructed conservation tank funded by the FOWI and overseen by AWIARE holds the sections of the canoe in a special bath of polyethylene glycol. Once the slow wood penetration treatment is complete, the canoe will be reassembled and put on display at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center.