An archeological dig on Big Talbot Island has wrapped-up, but students at the University of North Florida are just getting started on identifying centuries-old pieces recovered from the site.

The group now sorting through piece by piece, no matter how painstakingly small, looking for clues into an ancient culture. Going through all the dirt and separating out all the artifacts and all the bone and the shell," student Stefani Bemillersaid.

Dr. Keith Ashley said the shell pictured on the right was used as a tool by native people over a thousand years ago.
Dr. Keith Ashley said the shell pictured on the right was used as a tool by native people over a thousand years ago.

During the summer semester, over a dozen students and their professor Dr. Keith Ashely cleared levels of Earth from a spot just off A1A on a southern stretch of the island.

But it’s shells like the one carefully brushed out of the dirt wall. Now sitting in the lab with more of its story uncovered. Dr. Ashely explained the piece was used as a tool by the tribes about 1,000 years ago.

Back in June, UNF students dug through layers of Earth on Big Talbot Island where ancient tribes once lived.
Back in June, UNF students dug through layers of Earth on Big Talbot Island where ancient tribes once lived.

"It’s cool to hold history in your hands," Bemiller said.

Dr. Ashely said while he and his students are done digging at the Big Talbot site, they are just getting started on analyzing the pieces.

"Things that were a little different, seeing some evidence of craft production we think they’re making beads," Dr. Ashley said.

Student Lacy Bocharski explains how information n they gather could be used to compare other findings.

"What type of decorations are on it, if there’s anything special about it and then what we’ll do is put that into a database and use the database to kind of make comparisons," Bocharski said.

From there Ashley said, determining where the tribe originated and what happened to them.

"Our interpretations are kind of a work in progress, this is the best explanation based on what we had so far, so we’re continuously finding more things, we’re verifying some interpretations, we’re tweaking others," Dr. Ashley said.

He added as one dig ends, another could be right around the corner.