Archaeologist set to excavate Manatee Mineral Springs Park before Bradenton Riverwalk expansion

Manatee Mineral Springs

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - What lurks beneath the surface of Manatee Mineral Springs Park?

Reflections of Manatee, a local museum and preservation group, got the green light from the Bradenton City Council to move forward with their plans to find out.

They’re going to bring in an archaeologist to take a closer look. It’s an effort to find hidden treasures of the first settlers of the area before the city moves forward with the Riverwalk expansion.

“We may get information about daily lives that’s not reflected in historical records," says V.P of Reflections of Manatee Sherry Skevis.

Skevis tells ABC7 the project will be happening before any major changes take place at the park due to the Riverwalk expansion.

“Before it’s developed we want to get any information we can on those people that lived here," says Skevis.

An expert archaeologist will be looking for just about anything that will further help tell the stories of Bradenton’s first settlers, Native Americans and Angola Freedom Seekers. These are all groups that would frequent the mineral spring often between the 1700s to 1800s.

“We’re looking for small things like pottery, pieces of pipes, and buttons. Things that are forgotten about when people lose them but really helps archaeologist,” says Skevis.

There are plans to go well below 24- to 30-inches of ground to find the hidden treasures and mysteries of 18th and 19th century Bradenton.

“For the other people who lived here, specifically the Angola Freedom Seekers, blacks who had escaped enslavement to live here in peace while this was Spanish territory, archaeology is really the only way we can recover any traces of their daily lives. We’ve never done anything large scale like what we’re doing in January," says Skevis.

Wednesday morning the City of Bradenton agreed to fund the project 100 percent. It’s costing $100,000.

The archaeologist, machinery and Reflections of Manatee workers want to be in and out of the Manatee Mineral Spring before the first week of February.

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