MIAMI -- The bare-chested man arches the bow and aims his arrow at the sky. Atop a downtown drawbridge, the sculpture of the Tequesta Indian and his family guards the mouth of the Miami River.
Now it also stands sentinel over an archaeological dig wedged among downtown skyscrapers. What is likely prehistoric ruins from the extinct tribe have been unearthed on land slated for a high-rise condominium.The discovery of a circle made up of dozens of holes carved into bedrock limestone has captured the imagination of city dwellers. Daily, people show up at the fenced-in site to watch researchers sifting the black dirt.
Some even get dirty helping hunt for animal bones and pieces of pottery.
For a city with a largely transient population, where native-born Floridians are almost as rare as manatees, the five-month dig has created a sense that there is more to Miami than neon, drug-related killings and gaudy tourists.
"It allows the public to get a glimpse of what life was like so long ago," said John M. Ricisak, historic preservation specialist with Miami-Dade County. "Even people who have lived here all their lives have the idea that the history of the area is brief, that it doesn't extend more than 100 years."
Lori Glick, a 32-year-old actress, was fascinated by the Tequesta statue she saw outside the window of the apartment she recently moved into. Like many who volunteered to dig, she was born in Miami.
"All of a sudden, there is this discovery right outside where I live," said Glick, speckled head-to-toe with mud after spraying down artifacts. "It's really interesting to learn about the history of Miami from all this and how other people may have lived. I try to imagine how it must have looked like back then."