In 2007, Mark Holley, a professor of underwater archaeology at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, discovered a series of stones – some of them arranged in a circle and one of which seemed to show carvings of a mastodon – 40-feet beneath the surface waters of Lake Michigan.
If verified, the carvings could be as much as 10,000 years old – coincident with the post-Ice Age presence of both humans and mastodons in the upper Midwest
In a report by Holley and Brian Abbott to document the expedition, we learn that the archaeologists had been hired to survey a series of shipwrecks using sector scan sonar.
The boulder with the markings is 3.5 to 4 feet high and about 5 feet long. Photos show a surface with numerous fissures. Some may be natural while others appear of human origin, but those forming what could be the petroglyph stood out, Holley said.
Viewed together, they suggest the outlines of a mastodon-like back, hump, head, trunk, tusk, triangular shaped ear and parts of legs, he said.
While there is obviously some doubt as to whether or not that really is a mastodon carved on a rock – let alone if it really was human activity that arranged some of the rocks into a Stonehenge-like circle – it’s worth pointing out that Michigan does already have petroglyph sites and even standing stones.
In our own backyard the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park is a state park in Michigan containing Michigan’s only known rock carvings attributable to Native American Indians. The park consists of 240 acres in Greenleaf Township, Sanilac County, in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
The carvings, known as petroglyphs, were discovered by residents after a fire swept through the Upper Thumb of Michigan area in 1881 and revealed rocks bearing the designs. Because they are made in relatively friable sandstone, geologists have been able to determine that the carvings were made 300 to 1,000 years ago, dating back to the Late Woodland Period.