Report on June 2006 Bimini Archaeological Expedition:
Anchors & Wedge Stones Recovered—Verifies Ancient Breakwater
• New Underwater Stone Formation Discovered •
by Dr. Greg Little © 2006 — text & photos
Summary—In June 2006, a team comprised of Dr. Greg Little, Dr. Lora Little, archaeologist William Donato, British science writer Andy Collins, and Sue Collins spent three days on water at Bimini. KnB EZ Dive of Bimini served as the dive operator. The initial purposes were to 1) locate and move to the surface several cut, angular, rectangular slabs of stone excavated from under massive blocks comprising the breakwater best known as the "Bimini Road"; 2) locate and pull to the surface several angular, cut wedge stones that were excavated from under blocks on the breakwater, and; 3) Examine stone anchors that were found at a nearby site called "Proctor's Road." All of these tasks were accomplished. The finds support and confirm the conclusion that the Bimini Road served as an ancient breakwater enclosing a harbor. However, the expedition found a previously unreported stone formation in shallow water off Bimini. In many ways, this formation—presumably another breakwater enclosing a harbor—was more impressive than the Bimini Road and apparently has stone columns strewn on its surface.
Stone Slabs & Wedge Stones
On prior expeditions to Bimini in May 2005 and February 2006, members of the team had identified a series of what appeared to be cut, angular, rectangular slabs of stone lying underneath the massive blocks of the 1900-foot-long breakwater formation commonly referred to as the Bimini Road. In addition, several wedge stones were identified. All of these stones appeared to serve as leveling support stones for the massive blocks comprising the Bimini Road formation. In February 2006, the team, accompanied by a production crew with NBC News, excavated five of these slabs from under two large blocks adjacent to each other. Because water conditions were severe, the slabs were left in the immediate area and GPS coordinates were noted. The current expedition immediately found the location marked with the GPS. Four slabs were pulled from the bottom, small samples taken from each, and then they were placed back in the same location. Two of the rectangular slabs were obviously cut and placed in their location. Both were nearly 2-feet long, 6-inches thick, and 15-inches wide. Two wedge stones were removed. The larger one was clearly cut and placed and apparently served as a shim. It was placed under the side of a large block and then pounded into place to level the massive block resting on it. These stones are definitive evidence that the Bimini Road was apparently a breakwater enclosing a harbor. No one else has directly investigated the support stones underlying the large blocks that are viewed from the surface.
Anchors at Proctor's Road
Previous expeditions had identified and removed several stone anchors at a site located about a half-mile from the Bimini Road. The site, referred to as "Proctor's Road," is a nearly mile-long line of small stones on the bottom interspersed with piles of stone and partial stone circles (formed from massive blocks) on the bottom. Two anchors were removed from the area and sampled. These are both apparently primitive anchors commonly used by the Arawak Culture. However, radiocarbon dating of two anchors removed in February 2006 showed they came from widely separated time periods: 30 B.C. and A.D. 1300. A more careful examination of the bottom in this area revealed the presence of literally dozens of stone anchors. They vary from small, single holed stones to massive, well-formed blocks with multiple holes. Some of these are triangular in shape. These confirm that Bimini was an area of frequent visits and mooring by various cultural groups. Future excavations may well find this area to be a rich trove of marine archaeological artifacts.
New Site Discovered
On the final day of the expedition, Bill Donato wanted to look at the area around Paradise Point, the highest point on the shore and site of Bimini's most recognizable landmark. The May 2005 expedition made an aerial survey of the area taking both video and still photos. Inspection of the best digital images from this survey reveals that two large lines of stone are present in the shallow water off this portion of the island. However, on the current trip the area was nearly clean of sand revealing a massive, long line of stones arranged on an elevated strip of the bottom. GPS coordinates reveal that the formation is about 675-feet long and has a curved end, forming a J. It appears to have been a breakwater enclosing a harbor near the shore of the present island.
The stones in this formation are more regular and better preserved than those of the Bimini Road. In several places, large blocks are found in rows on the center of the formation, which are outlined with rows of smaller stones on the edges. Inspection of video has shown that what appear to be rounded stone columns—or cylinders—are present at several places on the formation. These vary in size, shape, and length. Future expeditions will make a more extensive investigation of this area.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks — by Dr. Greg Little