THE BRONX - Experts say that the discovery of ancient artifacts in Pelham Bay last month may be one of the most important finds in New York history.

A $2.9 million project intended to make getting to the shoreline easier for people was put on hold after diggers found shells from sea creatures that Native Americans ate almost 2,000 years ago.

With some more digging, they found dozens of artifacts.

"It's great for education," says Pelham Bay Park administrator Marianne Anderson. "It's great for having people realize how the land was used and coming full circle to respect what we have here."

Experts say the rare findings trace back to the Native Americans who used the shore as a means to survive.

"Finding Native American presence here is not anything unusual," says Anderson says. "It has a very long history of it, but it's great for the park."

Testing shows that the rare finds date back before European settlers came in contact with the Native Americans

The hole at the site has since been filled to preserve the area.

To ensure that no one goes near the area, the New York City Parks Department and its researchers are keeping the exact location of the findings a secret.