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Miami Circle (USA)

Tequesta Site on the Atlantic Coast of Florida


The Miami Circle, also called Brickell Point or the Brickell Site, is a hotly debated archaeological site in downtown Miami, on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The site was discovered during survey for a luxury condominium, to be called Brickell Pointe, and its presence there seriously gummed up the works.

Archaeological components of the site included a thick black midden, including large quantities of bone and shell artifacts, including basalt celts and potsherds associated with a Tequesta period (AD 1513-1750) occupation. The basalt celts (wood working tools) were found to be made of stone recovered from the Piedmont region of Georgia, near Atlanta and Macon. Radiocarbon dates on associated wood returned dates of at least 1900 years BP.

Miami Circle and Preservation Issues

The main feature of the Miami Circle site is a nearly perfectly circular ring of 24 holes cut into the limestone bedrock and measuring about 11.5 meters in diameter. The holes are of various shapes, some of which were thought to be shaped like animals. This circle has been variously interpreted by scholars as a house foundation, a solar calendar or henge, and a modern septic tank.

The Brickell site became enmired in legal suits about its preservation. Intense public scrutiny took place during those operations, and eventually the site was bought from the developer by the state of Florida for $26.7 million.

The Miami Circle was listed as the Brickell Point site on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The area has been leased by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, where the artifacts are currently stored. The museum plans tours of the site to begin in Spring of 2009.


The Brickell Site, Wikipedia entry

Dixon, Jacqueline E., et al. 2000 Provenance of stone celts from the Miami Circle archaeological site, Miami, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 53(4):328-341. Free download

Stroup, Richard L. and Brown, Matthew. 2000. Deciding the future of the past: The Miami Circle and archaeological preservation. Policy Report 26. The James Madison Institute: Tallahassee, Florida.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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