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Ancient mariner: Tests find Lake Minnetonka canoe is nearly 1,000 years old

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Fresh archaeological testing has put a new light on an old canoe. An extremely old canoe.

WCCO reports the wooden dugout that was pulled out of Lake Minnetonka decades ago was thought to be about 200 years old. But the new tests show its age is more like 1,000 years.

The station notes that puts the canoe in Minnesota about six centuries before the Mayflower crossed the Atlantic. The dugout was discovered by property owners who were extending their dock in 1934 (right). It measures 11 feet long and just a foot-and-a-half wide.

Archaeologists Ann Merriman and Christopher Olson tell MPR News the radiocarbon tests date the canoe to the period from 1025 to 1165 A.D., which makes it one of the oldest in Minnesota.

The dugout has been exhibited at various museums but its permanent home is in Long Lake at the museum of the Western Hennepin County Pioneer Association.

The Star Tribune reports the canoe was once relegated to a corner of the museum (which is only open four hours a week) but will now become its centerpiece.

The test results were released by the group Maritime Heritage Minnesota, a non-profit group that studies shipwrecks and other underwater archaeology in the state.

The Lake Minnetonka boat is one of eight the group is studying as part of the Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project. The others, which came from rivers and lakes around the state, are being radiocarbon tested in the same way the Lake Minnetonka canoe was.


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