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Archaeologists exploring the heart of downtown Miami have unearthed two concentric rings of ancient post holes reminiscent of the Miami Circle that members of the same team discovered directly across the river in 1998.
''We have found another of those missing pieces of Miami history, beautifully preserved under a parking lot,'' said archaeologist Bob Carr of Davie, who also was instrumental in the discovery of the Circle.
The now-famous Miami Circle is 38 feet wide and sits on the south bank of the Miami River. It attracted worldwide interest, stirred considerable controversy and ended up blocking a major development.
The newly discovered circles create a 36-foot-wide feature -- apparently marking the foundation of a prehistoric house -- and were found on the north bank of the river, at the sprawling Metropolitan Miami development site near the InterContinental Hotel.
Builders plan condominiums, stores and offices for the six acres. Scientists say the discovery should not interfere with development, but it is scientifically and culturally significant.
Though major differences exist between the Miami Circle and the concentric circles, Carr said they both are about 2,000 years old and share the same creators -- the Tequesta tribe, South Florida's original occupants.
The Tequesta lived on both sides of the river for as long as 2,500 years.
By 1763, they were gone, rendered extinct by European explorers and the diseases they carried.
''Now, we have another physical, material record of people who were here before us -- that continuity, that sense of place that is really important,'' Carr said as his team dug out and marked new discoveries Tuesday, including the jaw bone of a dog found buried just outside the concentric circles.
He noted that the new circles are close to the original shoreline -- ''prime real estate,'' he called it -- and apparently helped form one of many ancient house foundations that could be unearthed as the exploration continues.
'FOOTPRINT' OF HOME
''We believe this is the footprint of a Tequesta home, something that gives us a lot of clues about the way the Tequesta lived,'' he said.
The purpose of the double ring of circles is unclear: The house might have had two sets of posts, Carr said, or a larger house might have replaced the original one.