Land excavator discovers ancient Native American canoe in Belle Rose; nearly 1,500 years old

Land excavator discovers ancient Native American canoe in Belle Rose; nearly 1,500 years old

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Pierre Part man made quite the discovery: a roughly 1,500 year old canoe.

Land excavator Jamie Ponville was working on a job site in October of 2017, when he noticed a triangular shape. He realized it was a canoe, and then called his wife before notifying state archaeologists.

Fortunately, Ponville had dug up the canoe just right, so that there was no damage to it.

A Pierre Part man made quite the discovery: a roughly 1,500 year old canoe.
A Pierre Part man made quite the discovery: a roughly 1,500 year old canoe.

“If I had known the canoe was there, I could not have dug it up any better,” he said. “It was a perfect hit. Couldn’t ask for better.”

A state archaeologist identified it as a boat used by the Chitimacha tribe, Native Americans that lived along the Atchafalaya Basin. Using carbon dating, archaeologists determined that it was used between the years 430 and 622 AD.

“It’s very exciting,” Ponville said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

A Pierre Part man made quite the discovery: a roughly 1,500 year old canoe.
A Pierre Part man made quite the discovery: a roughly 1,500 year old canoe.

Following some legal procedures and verification, Ponville’s friends and family, along with archaeologists and members of the Chitimacha Tribe, gathered on Sunday, September 16, to lift the canoe from the ground and get it ready for transportation to Texas A&M University, where it will be preserved. That process will take around three to five years. After that, Ponville says he would like to display it somewhere in Assumption Parish, but he’s not sure exactly where.

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