Archaeologists called to investigate Fort Myers construction site ahead of ground breaking

Published: January 26, 2022 9:45 PM EST
Updated: January 26, 2022 11:11 PM EST

A new apartment complex is getting ready to be built in Fort Myers, but it may face some obstacles. The city has asked the project developers at the corner of First and Fowler Street to hire an archaeological firm to take a look at the grounds before construction begins.

Finding old burial sites or skeletal remains could halt construction while more archaeologists are called in. A plaque right across the street from where the apartment building will be going up identifies burial sites that have been identified in the area.

So, as a precaution, the city asked the developers to have this site investigated before breaking ground.

Sara Ayers-Rigsby, regional director for the Florida Public Archaeological Network, said, “Fort Myers, as its name would imply, was actually a fort, right. And this is an area that would have been in use during the Seminole War.”

Ayers-Rigsby says military, civilian, or any other burial site has a chance of being found.

“When we think about the city we live in today, we’re just a very recent part of this really rich and deep time period,” said Ayers-Rigsby.

Ayers-Rigsby pointed out a nearby archaeological investigation that did uncover military burials, and that’s one reason why the city asked for this site to be investigated.

“Earlier archaeological work in the area that was conducted when Second Street was expanded back in the early ’90s did find evidence for military burials and potentially, again, civilian and other burials in the area.”

Finding any remnants of a burial site would halt construction. Ayers-Rigsby says it’s essential to do this before breaking ground if it’s in a location close to where others have been found.

“It’s going to be better for the project if something like this is documented ahead of time, rather than having workers out on-site and having people be surprised in the middle of a project, right. That’s just going to cause lost time because then you have to bring archaeologists to document it in the middle of the construction project.”

The developers said the archaeological firm has been using ground radar and sonar and will be digging down if they find any anomalies.

So far, nothing has been found at this site, but the developers said they would stop and notify the proper authorities if they do find something.