Dugout Canoes in Florida

By: Ryan J. Wheeler

Florida is home to more of these important artifacts than any other state, but they must be treated with respect and preserved.

Prehistoric "dugout" canoes are important and fragile artifacts. More have been found in Florida than in any other state. There are currently more than 200 recorded sites in Florida that have canoes or log boats. Some are single canoes, others are groups of canoes, and a few sites, such as Lake Pithlachocco (Newnans Lake), have large numbers of canoes in close proximity.

As part of the archaeological record, these canoes provide information about Florida’s past. The oldest canoes date to the Middle Archaic Period, circa 7,000 to 6,000 years ago, but canoes from many time periods are known, including examples made by Europeans and American settlers. Even today, Native Americans continue traditional canoe making.

All artifacts located on state-owned lands or sovereign submerged bottoms, including canoes, are property of the state. Chapter 267, Florida Statutes, assigns ownership of these items to the Division of Historical Resources, so that they may be protected and conserved for future generations on behalf of the citizens of Florida. It is illegal to remove or disturb artifacts on state lands, including canoes. If you believe that you have located a canoe, please contact the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.

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