Archaeologists race to preserve Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's history

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Archaeologists with the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida said they have been busy excavating artifacts on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's property.

The land that researchers are focusing on was a missile graveyard in the 1960s and was previously home to the Cape Fish Company.

Officials with the Cape Canaveral Archaeological Mitigation Project said hurricanes and storm surge threaten to wash away valuable artifacts along the coastline.


"Due to climate change and sea level rise, a lot of these sites are going to be eroded in 20 to 25 years," said Thomas Penders, the 45th Space Wing's cultural resources manager.

The team is conducting three-dimensional mapping of the facility's historic launch complexes and laser scanning of a Native American burial mound using ground-penetrating radar.

"The fact that you have all of these things on top of each other in time is really interesting, as an archaeologist, to explore," said Lori Collins, a USF professor.

Archaeologists have discovered remnants of tools, meals and ceramics from indigenous peoples.

"I think there's this perception of many modern residents of Florida that Florida was this empty jungle when the Europeans showed up," said Stacy Barber, a UCF professor. "This site is an example of how completely wrong that idea is."

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