Magic Primeval

Don't tell archaeologist Bob Carr that the mysterious Miami Circle is just a bunch of holes in the ground. He knows better than that.

The DHT's suit could not have come at a more critical time. As Carr had expected, the city had issued Baumann's foundation permit, and the developer had ordered the excavation team to be off his property by Monday, February 1. Fortunately Held had been able to schedule a hearing for Sunday at the Coconut Grove home of Judge Thomas "Tam" Wilson. All day Saturday the archaeologists worked frantically to make plastic molds of the circle and excavate a new discovery: the complete remains of a sea turtle that had been interred in much the same fashion as the Tequesta used for human burials, aligned like the remains of a shark found earlier, lying east to west. There to keep the crew company and even do a little digging himself was Baumann, who seemed genuinely excited by the new finds. At dawn the next day, the diggers were back on the job, and Baumann showed up to help out again. Then, at noon, he and Carr left for Judge Wilson's house.

It was Super Bowl Sunday, and Miami was hosting for the occasion -- "the highest secular holiday in modern America," Carr remembers thinking. Meanwhile in Judge Wilson's living room, a hearing was being convened that would determine the fate of a highly important relic of ancient America. Those attending -- Carr; Baumann; Held; and lawyers for the developer, the city, and the county -- were dressed more for the first event than for the second, and the atmosphere was decidedly casual. But that didn't detract from the significance of the proceeding. Both sides argued their positions, while Carr limited himself to answering scientific questions. In the end the judge ruled without prejudice against the injunction, on the grounds that the DHT didn't have enough money to post a bond matching the cost of Baumann's development loans. In the course of the discussion, however, the developer decided to give the archaeologists a break. He would allow the dig team an additional 30 days on-site, and he would pay for the circle's removal by a skilled stonecutter. #108;

This is the first installment of a two-part story. Next week: Indians invade Brickell Point, Joe Carollo goes ballistic, and a final showdown at the Miami Circle. From 1995 to 1999 Jim Kelly was editor ofFlorida Antiquity, the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy newsletter.

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