Wisconsin Historical Society maritime archaeologists, and partners from Wisconsin’s Native Nations, have recovered a 3,000-year-old dugout canoe from the bottom of Lake Mendota in Madison, WI.
Using radiocarbon dating, scientists estimate that the canoe is from 1,000 B.C., making it the oldest ever discovered in the Great Lakes region by 1,000 years. The news comes less than year after the WHC recovered a 1,200-year-old canoe from a similar location.
The 3,000-year-old canoe is made from a single piece of white oak and measures 14.5 feet long.
Dr. James Skibo, Wisconsin Historical Society state archaeologist, had this to say about the discovery:
“Finding an additional historically significant canoe in Lake Mendota is truly incredible and unlocks invaluable research and educational opportunities to explore the technological, cultural, and stylistic changes that occurred in dugout canoe design over 3,000 years,” said Skibo.
“Since it was located within 100 yards of where the first canoe was found at the bottom of a drop-off in the lakebed, the find has prompted us to research fluctuating water levels and ancient shorelines to explore the possibility that the canoes were near what is now submerged village sites.”
Ho-Chunk President Marlon WhiteEagle commented as well:
“The recovery of this canoe built by our ancestors gives further physical proof that Native people have occupied Teejop (Four Lakes) for millennia, that our ancestral lands are here and we had a developed society of transportation, trade and commerce,” said Ho-Chunk President Marlon WhiteEagle.
“Every person that harvested and constructed this caašgegu (white oak) into a canoe put a piece of themselves into it. By preserving this canoe, we are honoring those that came before us. We appreciate our partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society, working together to preserve part of not only our ancestors’ history but our state’s history.”
Both recently-discovered canoes are being restored by preservationists in a process that takes about two years.
Archeology teams will continue to study this particular area of Lake Mendota in hope that more will be uncovered.
All Images Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society