Second ancient canoe – this one 3,000 years old – found in Wisconsin lake | Wisconsin


A 3,000-year-old canoe has been found in Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, less than a year after another historical canoe dating back more than a millennium was discovered in the same body of water.

An archaeologist found the artifact in pieces before it was recovered from the lake last Thursday in collaboration with Wisconsin’s Native Nations, a press release from the Wisconsin Historical Society said.

The same archaeologist discovered the 14.5ft boat close to where she had found a 1,200-year-old dugout canoe in November, the press release added.

“Finding an additional historically significant canoe in Lake Mendota is truly incredible and unlocks invaluable research and educational opportunities to explore the technological, cultural and stylistic changes that occurred in dugout canoe design over 3,000 years,” a state archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society, James Skibo, said.

Experts believe that it is the oldest canoe found in the Great Lakes region, dating back to 1000BC, according to radiocarbon dating results, NPR reported.

Maritime archaeologist Tamara Thomsen found the relic in May 2022 while she was giving a scuba diving lesson, NPR added.

“This is not a joke. I found another dugout canoe,” Thomsen reportedly texted her boss upon the discovery. Thomsen also had previously found the other ancient canoe while she was going for a swim on her day off.

Talks soon followed on how to recover the historical relic. Archeologists and volunteers excavated the ancient canoe, with members of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Bad River Tribe present for the recovery effort.

Experts believe that the found artifacts are further evidence of Native communities that existed where Lake Mendota is now, giving more insight into the history of Indigenous life in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region.

“The recovery of this canoe built by our ancestors gives further physical proof that Native people have occupied Teejop (Four Lakes) for millennia, that our ancestral lands are here and we had a developed society of transportation, trade and commerce,” the Ho-Chunk Nation’s president, Marlon WhiteEagle, said.

Tribal members and historical society staff will care for both canoes now that they are out of the lake.

The relics will later be taken to take the State Archive Preservation Facility in Madison, where it will take approximately two years to restore them, the press release said.



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