At ‘Old Vero’ gala, digging what lies below and ahead

Members and supporters of the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee gathered last Wednesday evening at its Quest for Knowledge Gala at the Riomar Country Club, where guests celebrated archaeological discoveries made over the past four years and learned of future plans to dig into Vero’s past.

As they enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, Dann Jacobus spoke about various Vero Dig artifacts, including a mammoth molar, saber-tooth skull, mastodon tooth and rib.

The dig, located near the County Administration Building, is the site where “Vero Man” was first unearthed in 1915. For nearly a century the find was discredited, until a University of Florida professor emerita of archaeology and anthropology dated a mammoth bone from the area as originating between 12,000 and 14,000 years ago. Renewed interest led to the creation of OVIASC.

Randy Old, board president, outlined the direction the nonprofit is taking in their quest to uncover more of Vero’s ancient secrets and illuminate the future through the excavation, education and preservation of the past.

“We’ve had an extraordinary last four years of excavation,” said Old. “We’ve had a good group of archaeologists and a lot of volunteers at the site. Now, it’s time to go on to another site.”

Before digging in too deeply at a new location, previous findings need to be published, said Old. “We don’t dig to find; we dig to find out. What we’re trying to do now is summarize all the things we’ve learned.”

They plan to devote this year to publishing Vero site findings, creating displays and finding a new dig site, and in the fall will begin working on a Vero Site exhibit at the Indian River State College Mueller campus.

Old shared the board’s vision for what’s been referred to as the most significant community Ice Age project in North America and presented a video highlighting recent findings and plans. The visual journey gave donors a clear picture of the group’s direction and its growing relationship with IRSC, where artifacts are being analyzed.

IRSC President Edwin Massey noted that as a result of the collaboration, the college now has an anthropology lab and a DNA sequencer, adding, “You guys have dug up a lot of dirt in Vero. It’s going to move our college forward.”

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Photos by: Stephanie LaBaff
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