On a recent dry, sunny afternoon, a dog walker and a few tourists were at the Miami Circle. None of them realized they were at the site of a 2000-year-old archaeological site, the very cradle of Miami civilization.
“Is it here?” asked a woman, her eyes darting across the landscape of dried grass and limestone rocks that hid the Miami Circle.
The air smelled faintly of dog excrement and marine life, the Miami River lapping against the seawall. Across the narrow dark river, mega yachts were anchored. On the Brickell Bridge, the iconic statue of a Tequesta warrior stood, his arms outstretched toward the blue sky, now obscured by the concrete and glass of a new downtown real estate boom.
Perhaps we have forgotten about the Miami Circle because we buried it. Perhaps we have forgotten because we are a city that redefines itself every few years, and waves of newcomers roll in with every tide, like seaweed, with no memory of what the Miami Circle meant to the community when it was discovered in the summer of 1998.
We have lost touch with what it means to contemplate a connection to 2000 years past, when the hands of an ancient people carved the very bedrock that would build a city in the 20th Century.
But because we saved this place where the river meets the bay, we can still imagine what it was like to live under an open blue sky, close to the sea, at a time when it seemed the world had no end.