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Prehistoric artifacts found at the Sulphur Dell construction site are adding another chapter to Nashville's history.

State archaeologist Mike Moore said crews first unearthed the prehistoric deposits, which could date back as far as 1150 AD, last month in the area that will one day become left field for the Nashville Sounds. Archaeologists' work at the site wrapped Wednesday so that construction could continue.

Fire pits and broken pieces of ceramic pans uncovered at Sulphur Dell suggest that there was a large workshop there where mineral water was boiled to collect salt, a valuable trading commodity. This is the first discovery of its kind in the region, Moore said.

Archaeologist Kevin E. Smith, professor and director of anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University, said the breakthrough offers a rare window into the day-to-day life of Native Americans in Music City almost 1,000 years ago.

"This is one of those few chances we've had to actually get real, hard scientific evidence of who was here and what they were doing," Smith said.

Enough was excavated to fuel one or two years of research. The city will have more details available Friday.

Smith said he wishes there was more time and money to devote to excavation, but he and Moore were both glad Metro agreed to hire a private consulting firm to monitor construction for any such discovery.

The ball park will be built over the archeological site, but not in a way that will damage any remaining artifacts, Smith said.

"We managed to meet everybody's goals pretty satisfactorily," Smith said. "Things turned out very positively for everyone concerned."

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