A Wisconsin Lake Is Hidding a Prehistoric Discovery
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A Wisconsin Lake Is Hiding an Ancient Discovery That Has Historians Excited

You never know where you will find an artifact of history. One Wisconsin lake is unassuming. At a glance, it looks like a perfect place for fishing or swimming, but it actually houses a prehistoric discovery that has historians excited.

Recently, historians found 11 or more ancient canoes in a Badger State lake. These canoes stretch back thousands of years. One canoe dates back to 2500 BC. The Wisconsin Historical Society announced that it discovered the canoes in Lake Mendota. While the announcement is recent, the discovery of the canoes actually stretches back a couple of years.

Someone first discovered two ancient canoes in 2021 and 2022. Since then, the organization discovered 11 other canoes in the lake. Historians have removed some of the canoes, but they're leaving others where they are due to how frail they are. In an interview with Fox News Digital on Wednesday, State Archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society Dr. Amy Rosebrough opened up about the discovery.

"The Indigenous peoples of Wisconsin and the wider United States fished, traveled, and traded extensively on inland lakes and streams, and until now we have not had a clear look at the canoes used in the Great Lakes region," she explained. "To put it in modern terms, it's like trying to understand life in the Midwest without ever seeing a real pickup truck in person. Canoes allowed people to fish in deeper lakes, to transport goods over hundreds of miles, and to travel to far-away places."

Wisconsin Lake Hides Ancient Discoveries

According to Rosebrough, there may be an ancient village under the lake. However, all of that water makes discovering new artifacts difficult.

"Lake Mendota is a hard lake to work in, however," Rosebrough admitted. "There is a limited window of visibility for diving missions, and we are exploring non-destructive remote sensing techniques that might help this summer. Even without finding the village, the discovery of these canoes and the tools found within the first canoe that was found, human-worked stone tools called net sinkers, reminds us that people have lived and worked alongside the lake for thousands of years."

Thanks to the discovery, Rosebrough believes there's a lot more to be found at the Lake. It's just waiting somewhere under the water.  "The Great Lakes oftentimes receive more funding for maritime archaeology but smaller bodies of water like Lake Mendota have their own distinct histories and stories to tell us about the people who lived here hundreds and thousands of years ago," she said. "We are proud to work in partnership with Native Nations in Wisconsin to discover all we can about Tee Waksikhominak and to share these stories now and in the future at the new Wisconsin History Center set to open in early 2027."