A settlement discovered in Canada is providing new details about how large communities flourished during the time when Europeans were just discovering America.
The settlement, also known as the Mantle site, is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario and is considered the largest and most intricate city throughout the region of its day.
Researchers estimate that is was occupied around 1500 to 1530 and is thought to have been created by the Wendat or Huron people.
The site was excavated back in between 2003 and 2005 and archeologists have discovered 98 longhouses, a palisade of three rows- heavy wooden fences used to fortify their position- and nearly 200,000 artifacts. There have also been several pieces of art which depict human faces as well as animals that have been recovered.
"This is an Indiana Jones moment, this is huge," said Ron Williamson, of the University of Toronto. "It just seems to be a game-changer in every way."
Williamson is also the founder of Archaeological Services Inc., a Canadian cultural resource management firm charged with excavating the site.
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"It's the largest, most complex, cosmopolitan village of its time," Williamson said during an interview with LiveScience.com. "All of the archaeologists, basically, when they see Mantle, they're just utterly stunned."
Scientists revealed that about 1,500 and 1,800 people lived at the site, which encompasses an area the size of Manhattan.
"When you think about a site like Mantle, 2,000 people, massive stockade around a community, a better analogy is that of a medieval town," according to Jennifer Birch, a researcher at the University of Georgia.
Seven years after excavations ended, only a small percentage of the site remains as developers built on the site after the dig was completed.
"We did not have the planning legislation in place to preserve these sites like we do today," Williamson told LiveScience.com. "If the site were found today there would be far more exploration of options to preserve it."