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1,400-Year-Old Canal Found in Alabama

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

GULF SHORES, ALABAMA—AL.com reports that two sections of a 1,400-year-old canal have been uncovered in the long, narrow, sandy peninsula at the mouth of Mobile Bay. The canal, which measures about sixth-tenths of a mile long, would have shaved more than ten miles off the trip around the peninsula in frequently rough waters. It connected the rich fishing grounds of Oyster Bay and Little Lagoon, which had an outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. “There are other similar ancient canals,” said Greg Waselkov of the University of South Alabama, “but they are very rare. All of the other long canals, and there are only six known examples of this type, are all in Florida.” Waselkov is attempting to determine when maintenance of the canal stopped. “Hurricane tidal surges dumped massive amounts of sand onto the abandoned canal, which contains all sorts of datable material from elsewhere that has nothing to do with the canal,” he said. “So it's a challenge.” A remote-sensing survey could help Waselkov and his team locate the path of the rest of the waterway. To read about exploration of a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico, go to “All Hands on Deck.”

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