First Look at excavations at Phillippi Estate Park with Archaeologists from Sarasota County, New College and the Florida Public Archaeology Network

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by: Carol Erickson

Imagine.. living in a beautiful contemporary place like Sarasota with all its beauty, arts and culture.
Imagine.. also having the opportunity to go back in time to an archaeological dig right in our own backyard at the historic Phillippi Estate Park.

On January 4th and 5th, the media along with the public,  were invited to attend the site of a real authentic dig at the Estate located at 5000 S. Tamiami Trail.  This was a rare occasion to be unraveling an important piece of ancient history in a beautiful scenic location.  The art of discovery is incredible!  This was a joint venture between Sarasota County and New College of Florida.  Many locals and tourists were on hand to possibly witness the irreplaceable remains of our past.

The first person we met was Dr. Uzi  Baram, a Professor at New College and the team of knowledgeable and passionate  volunteers. Although we were cautioned not expect any sensational findings,  just the thought of possibly witnessing the first person to discover something that no one else had seen or touched before in two thousand years, was well worth the trip.

The day was another vivid reminder of Sarasota’s origins and the people who were a major part in building this vibrant  community we all love.

For more information,  visit


Archaeology in action at Phillippi Estate Park
SARASOTA COUNTY – Archaeologists from Sarasota County, New College and the Florida Public Archaeology Network will take part in two days of excavations at Phillippi Estate Park on Jan. 4 and 5, and the public is invited to come see the digs in action and learn more about our cultural history.

The county’s 60-acre Phillippi Estate Park, located on the southern shore of Phillippi Creek, includes prehistoric archaeological evidence spanning thousands of years. The testing of selected areas of the property will help define the boundaries of the Prodie Midden Site, believed to have been occupied between 2,500 to 1,200 years ago.

Limited testing will also be conducted at the Archaic Lithic Scatter Site, which contains evidence of visitation that occurred sometime between 5,000 to 3,000 years ago. The archaeologists will also investigate the historic refuse site associated with the early 20th century Edson Keith Mansion located on the park grounds.
“This work will help us gain an understanding of the period of occupation, land use and activities conducted at the sites,” said Dr. Uzi Baram, professor of anthropology and director of the New College Public Archaeology Lab, who will direct the excavation and the analysis of the findings.
The results of the excavation will be incorporated into heritage interpretive signs that will be distributed around Phillippi Estate Park explaining the cultural history of the area. Those educational panels, along with the opening of the restored Edson Keith Farm House, will be featured at the centennial commemoration of the Edson Keith Mansion on Nov. 12, 2016.
The public can come see the sites, talk with the archaeologists and learn about our community’s history between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Jan. 4 and 5 at the park, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
The event is part of the newly developed Community Heritage Awareness and Management Program (CHAMP) and a collaboration of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, New College, Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Sarasota County’s Libraries and Historical Resources and Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources departments.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit
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