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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Happy REAL Thanksgiving!

Cover of Robyn Gioia's book "America's REAL First Thanksgiving"
The above illustration depicts America's REAL First Thanksgiving.  Please note: not one pilgrim is to be found in that picture!  The more typical holiday image conjured in one's mind usually looks something more like this....

If you're not a native Floridian, you most likely didn't learn that St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.  And you definitely didn't learn about it's first Thanksgiving!

On September 8, 1565 Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles ceremoniously landed on the shore of present day St. Augustine, FL.  In 1565, it was the village of Seloy in which Menendez set foot, one of about thirty Timucuan villages located throughout Northeast Florida.  Menendez and his men undoubtedly were full of tremendous gratitude for their safe arrival to the new land (which of course was immediately claimed for Spain!)   A Mass of Thanksgiving was then followed by a feast for the Spanish with the Timucua as invited guests. The Spanish provided the feast, but it is very possible that the Timucua contributed some of their own native fares (deer, corn, squash, shellfish, mullet, shark, and gopher tortoise).

America's First Mass
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine proceeds the Pilgrim's landing on Plymouth Rock by 56 years!
So, why did I wear a Pilgrim's Hat in my 4th grade Thanksgiving class play and not a Spanish conquistador helmet?

Well, history is written by the victors.  England eventually became the dominant culture in the United States so it is from their viewpoint that our history is told.
Gopher Tortoise: Good food for the Timucua, but not good for you

We now enjoy our English Thanksgiving traditions of turkey and pumpkin pie.  But perhaps this holiday you can surprise your guests with a dinner from America's REAL first Thanksgiving: Spanish stew, hardtack and shark (disclaimer: we do not recommend serving the Timucuan dish of gopher tortoise; That is now illegal and you will go to jail!)

To learn more about Robin Gioia, her books, and teacher resources, visit Robin's websiteAmerica's REAL First Thanksgiving can be purchased through the Jacksonville Historical Society  or on Amazon.

Whatever tradition you chose to follow, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Text:  Robbie Boggs, FPAN Staff
Images (in order of appearance): illustration by Robert Deaton, picture located on colonialsense.com, illustration by Robert Deaton, photo located on pinterest, photo located on UPI.com

Conversations about Conferences (and Trainings!)- American Academy of Underwater Sciences

The University of West Florida has recently become an American Academy of Underwater Sciences member. This status also applies to all FPAN divers if they plan to dive for work. The AAUS provides a set of diving standards and a Diving Control Board to regulate the safety of research divers across the country. 

The EC has 2; The Urca and Valentine! 

As an FPAN employee, my job is to promote Florida's buried past. That also includes Florida's submerged past. There are multiple dive training programs FPAN provides the public; SSEAS,
HADS, and now the beginning of Submerged HMS! To be able to incorporate these programs in the East Central region, I had to begin my AAUS diver training. 

Sarah: What did you expect in attending the AAUS Diver Training?

Emma: I was expecting to test my skills as a diver, pass some swim tests, and over all get prepared to assist the real underwater archaeologists. I knew I was going to learn a lot, I just didn't know how much.   

Sarah: So what did you actually learn?

Emma: What didn't I learn is a better question. I learned everything from how to multitask underwater, to how to identify an over expansion injury and how to treat the injured diver until rescue personal arrive. The best thing I "learned" was definitely to expect the unexpected. Emergencies happen at any time and 

Sarah: What was the hardest part of attending the workshop?

Nicole and Mike joined for our open water skills.
Photo by our DSO Fritz!
Emma: Honestly? I was just nervous about my skills going into the training. I had moments where I questioned whether or not I was ready for this. Fritz, the Dive Safety Officer, certainly tested my abilities! But at the end of the week I am a more confident diver.

Sarah: What will you bring back for the public for their benefit?

Emma: I am hoping to bring back the ability to host some of our diver focused training. There are so much coast line, and so many springs and caves in the East Central region that hopefully I can inspire some local divers to adopt sites for underwater monitoring or to learn how to record them with out damaging them! 

The stretch of Florida deemed the Treasure Coast is so much more than the "treasure" people talk about. The history of salvage in the area seems to overshadow the archaeology. I just want to be able to accurately talk to people about what underwater archaeologists actually do and how to record sites without damaging them. We all want history to be around for the next generation right? That includes sites underwater too!  

Sarah: What activities did you do, with the workshop or in Pensacola?

Emma: We completed basic underwater skills in the pool, the 400m and 25m swims, learning how to circle survey, install an underwater grid, mapping with your partner underwater (pretty hard without speaking), underwater navigation, underwater puzzles (which was so much fun! Never thought I would use a wrench underwater), dive tables and calculations, CPR and Oxygen administration, and towing a tired diver. 

It was a lot to take in, I am still in training and I know I need to personally prefect my skills, but I am eager to continue on!

As for activities in Pensacola, it was a nice homecoming! As a UWF grad student (thesis and graduation pending), I was able to spend dinners with colleagues and friends. I was excited to spend time with the FPAN Northeast group, it was a reunion I wasn't expecting till our annual meeting. Pensacola has been embracing their history more and more. Every time I come into town there is a new portion of their Colonial Archaeological Trail, or the UWF Historic Trust has developed a new interpretive program. It is amazing!  

Sarah: Anything that surprised you?
Dive Table conversions.

Emma: The math! The biggest take away from the dive was not the skills learned underwater but was the information about the dive tables. I spent close to four hours just going over different dive scenarios and how to plan my dive so there is little to no risk of getting bent. I guess I wasn't expecting to see the difference in how my computer calculates my dive time, how the Navy calculates dives, and how PADI does their own calculations. It has made me want to be a bit more cautious in my dives.

I also was surprised I passed my swim test. Twenty-five meters underwater with one breath is quite the distance. It did take two tries! 

Sarah: Future plans?

Emma: I am excited to be able to assist the State in any projects, but more so I am excited to use these skills to bring submerged history to the eyes of the public. I never thought I would be a scuba diver, so being able to grow this skill to the point where I can provide tours of shipwrecks of even run my own SSEAS training in the area would be amazing! 
Only a small portion of wrecks off the "Treasure Coast" (Photo)

In my second week in the office I had received a call about a potential shipwreck washed up along the coast, although it was a false alarm, the next one might not be. The Florida east coast is a area rich in maritime history. Being born and raised in a land locked state I honestly never thought about underwater archaeology, or diving historic sites. 

Shipwrecks in Florida are a common occurrence and with areas called "The Treasure Coast", the imagination tends to run wild with dreams of finding buried treasure. As I finish this blog post, I want to add in a quick statement about the laws protecting shipwrecks and why they exist. The laws are simple, do not disturb any wreck or archaeological site (underwater or on land). The reason for this is that these sites are time capsules, they are a closed context of materials relating to a single moment in time. Meaning everything that went down on the ship is still there. This paints an elaborate picture of the time period and the lives of those on board. Information that is often not recorded, or on land has been disturbed by a century of people living in the region. Please check Florida laws before diving on shipwrecks, and please take only photos and only leave bubbles!

I am ecstatic to be able to experience and learn more about the history that lays just off shore, but more importantly I am excited to be able to share that history. If you are in the East Central region and are interested, stay tuned for more events about our submerged past! If you are a a diver interested in training, email me and we can start planning!  

Words and Images by Emma Dietrich, FPAN Staff.

Notes from the Trenches: Week 4/5

Here's the latest update from Dr. Kathleen Deagan at the excavations at the Mission Nombre de Dios:

Good week- no rain! We are still mostly in the tabby section (the Friar’s living quarters) of the  La Leche Shrine/Hermitage, although intrepid volunteers Don Roberts, Phil Guilliford and Carl Lindenfeld have been working on the stone section and have found the north wall of the Chapel and or Shrine building.

Carl and Don working hard.
Whoever built the tabby section (be it Franciscan friars, Indian residents of Mission Nombre de Dios, or hired laborers) they were not trained in building construction. The walls are not at right angles to one another, and the methods of construction are erratic. The outer west wall of the building has a fairly substantial shell footing, but it varies a lot in depth. Unfortunately, there is almost no above-ground tabby construction remaining, but a layer of mortar above the shell footing suggests the ground level when the building was constructed. We are also finding postmolds cut into the shell footings, suggesting that there were a number of supporting posts for the precarious tabby walls. We are also finding coquina blocks interspersed with tabby on the top of the footings. Preservation Architect Herschel Shepard, who is giving us invaluable architectural interpretation, suspects that this may represent a very early, and perhaps experimental, phase of tabby construction in St. Augustine.

Southwest corner of the building - not quite at right angle!

Some of the feature we thought were interior walls are actually narrow linear strips of rubble that are only a few centimeters thick. One of them has apparent postmolds cutting through it, and so maybe these very shallow features are actually accumulated rubble along a pillared walkway, or cloister.
We have also uncovered a curiously small walled area on the north side of the tabby section. It measures only about two meters by one meter, and is very close to the pump that covers the most powerful artesian well at the site. It provides water for the entire Mission and Shrine property. When the Franciscan friars visited last week, they told us that conventos and hermitages had to have a source of water quire nearby, not only for dining and washing, but especially for the sacraments.

Small stone wall feature on the north side of the tabby section.

RoxAnna and Allison have been excavating this rectangular feature, and found a broken glass bottle inside, about 20 centimeters below the top. It’s a case bottle – a square-sectioned bottle – of dark green glass. It could have been used for spirits, wine or medicine.  The same area had lots of animal bone and charcoal, and we are wondering if it may have been related to food preparation at the hermitage, conveniently close to a water source.

None of this would get done without the amazing volunteers who are contributing their time to this project. Excavating, screening soil, moving wheelbarrows and more.  There is a picture here of happy screeners (an unusual image) including our new(ish) County Archaeologist and Cultural Resources Coordinator, Mercedes Harrold. She spent the day working on the site with us and was lucky enough to be here when loyal volunteer and former Director of Mission Nombre de Dios – Eric Johnson – treated the crew to Pizza Friday! An earlier tradition, and one we hope to continue (even though work is a bit slowed down on Friday afternoon). Thanks, Eric!

Pizza Friday!

Visitors stopped by to ask RoxAnna about the project.
We have also been recovering a number of posts and pits from the pre-building (pre-1702) occupation of the Mission by people who made San Marcos pottery. They are presumed to have been Guale Indians. But that is a story for next week.

Text and images by Kathleen Deagan.

Check out all of the updates here:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Thanks to all of the sponsors who made this project possible!

Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios: Week 3!

Flagler College students help out on the dig!

The second week of work at the Mission and Shrine has sped by, with no rain! Thanks again to the Sons of Our Lady and the volunteers from Flagler College and the St. AugustineArchaeological Association, we have now uncovered almost the entire building - the coquina section is in excellent condition, with wide (50 centimeters) shell and rubble footings, and in some places there are traces of the bottom course of the coquina stone walls. Herschel Shepard, the architect who is advising us, tells us that the foundation width could have supported two-story walls.  

Sons of Our Lady moving dirt!

The western portion of the building is a different story.  There the wall footings are narrow trenches (about 25 cm. wide) packed with oyster shells.  Some have a layer of mortar on the top, but no sections of the walls themselves are left .  The footings are very fragile and prone to crumbling, so excavating around them is a balancing act.  In some places, adjacent to the wall footings, there are thin patches of shell and mortar.  We originally thought that these were remnants of tabby walls that fell down.  But there is not enough of this material to account for tabby walls, and there are a lot of coquina chunks around the footings, which is making us re-think the assumption that this section was all constructed of tabby.....

Rubble or wall fall.

These buildings were "blown up with gunpowder" by the Spaniards themselves in 1728. The English raider John Palmer, like James Moore in 1702, had captured and occupied the Mission buildings that year. He severely damaged them before he retreated. The Governor was not going to let that happen again. They salvaged the coquina blocks to rebuild the Mission to the south, across what is today called Hospital Creek and was then called Macaris Creek. 

Pipes in footing.

And as if that destruction was not enough, 20th century workmen laid irrigation lines, iron water lines and electrical conduits through the buried footings. They obviously did not know they were there, but we imagine that they had choice words about the difficult digging! Fortunately, all the disturbance and damage from the 18th to the 20th century has not eliminated the essential archaeological evidence we need to understand the building and its meaning.

Uncovering stone foundations.
Members of the Sons of Our Lady have uncovered much of the wall we mentioned last week, that extends out from the stone building toward the east. After about 5 meters, it seems to turn to the south, so we will continue trying to understand if it is earlier, later, or contemporary in relation to the stone portion of the building. 

So far nothing in either the excavations or the ongoing documentary work that Dr. Tim Johnson is doing has challenged our hypothesis that the eastern, coquina section of the building was the Shrine built by the Governor in 1677, and that the western, potentially tabby section, was added- probably after Moore's raid of 1702. We have recovered San Augustín Blue on White majolica, Castillo Polychrome and PueblaPolychrome majolica, and there is a lot of San Marcos pottery, associated with the Guale and Yamasee Indians who moved close to St. Augustine after about 1600. 

And the first bead was found on Saturday! Turquoise blue, drawn and facetted glass.  So far, nothing dates to later than the period of ca. 1650-1730.  

FPAN at kick off event.

Text and images: Kathleen Deagan

Miss last week's update? All Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios:

And for an illustrated look at Moore's 1702 Raid click to read more.

Check back next week for another update from Dr. Deagan. And thanks again to the project sponsors and partners for making the dig possible!

Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios: Week 2

Here's the latest update from the excavation at the Mission Nombre de Dios, courtesy of Dr. Kathleen Deagan:

Last week was our first full week of excavation at the Mission/Shrine building site. The weekend before we had two volunteer days, and the Sons of Our Lady along with the Flagler College archaeology students and faculty did an amazing job of helping us remove the 2014 backfill. Thanks!!

Despite nearly two full days of intermittent rain, we now have nearly all of the structure exposed. To everyone’s relief, the footings and tabby floor are in excellent condition. Gifford Waters’ 2014 team had lined everything with heavy plastic before the backfill started, and so even with two hurricanes flooding the site in 2016 and 2017, everything looks intact.  ]

While we were excavating, Prof. Tim Johnson and his students were digging into archival material. They have found plans of Catholic hermitages from the early 18th century that are very similar to our building, suggesting that the structure we are uncovering was a hermitage dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Leche. Those of you who have read Michael Gannon’s The Cross in the Sand (1965, U. of Florida Press) may remember that he wrote that after the attack of James Moore destroyed the buildings at Mission Nombre de Dios in 1702, the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Leche was “patiently rebuilt from coquina rock….The reconstructed chapel ran north and south, 33 by 15 feet, and easily accommodated the forty Christian Indians who could still be found at the pioneer mission."   

The coquina portion of the building we are excavating runs north and south, and measures
approximately 35 feet north to south and 21 feet to west. We strongly suspect that the reconstructed chapel Dr. Gannon wrote about was built on the foundations of the original masonry shrine built in 1677 by Governor de Hita y Salazar - the coquina section of the structure. The rest of the building was built  of tabby, and is currently thought to have been constructed after 1702 as the remainder of the hermitage that served as living quarters for the friars. Time and associated artifact materials will tell.

In 2014 Gifford’s team uncovered a badly-deteriorated section of what looked like a foundation at the very southeast corner of the stone building, extending eastward. It was, of course, the last week of the dig when archaeologists always find the best things. We will turn back to that corner next week to investigate the possibility that it might be related to the 1677 – or even earlier – Chapel and Shrine. Stay tuned!

-Kathy Deagan, 10/15/18

Check back next week for on the dig or search #iDigNombreDeDios for updates from the field on social media!

All Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios:
Week 1
Week 3
Week 4/5

Special thanks to the 2018 field season sponsors.
All text and images by Kathleen Deagan.

Cemetery Dash 2018

October is here, which means it's time for the 2018 Cemetery Dash! Every year in October, we encourage folks to spend some time in their local historic cemeteries. You could show it some love with a clean up day, give it a good monitoring with our HMS Florida forms, or even just stroll through and enjoy the sites. Whatever you do, just get out there!

The troops fanned out and inspecting Union Grove Cemetery for the oldest stone, unique features and any other important information to include on the site's Florida Master Site File Form.

We kicked off the month with a dash through some of Putnam County's unrecorded cemeteries. A group of volunteers from the area helped us fill out the Florida Master Site File forms for each of the 3 cemeteries, take photos of the sites and any unique features, and collect GPS points. All of this information will be filed with the State's Site File to offer some protection to the sites. Below are a few photos of highlights from our dash through the sites.

Sign at the entrance of Etoniah Cemetery in Bardin.
My first white zinc monument spotted in the wild! From Etoniah Cemetery.
Beautiful vernacular stone from Union Grove Baptist Church.
Two of Harlem's postmasters at Providence Baptist Church Cemetery. A parishioner we meet at the site told us that Mrs. Minton took over from Mr. Minton after he grew sick. Unfortunately, only he got the post-mortem recognition!
And what Halloween blog is complete without a bit (preservation) horror! A pile of foot stones sadly removed from their original locations and piled in the corner of Union Grove Cemetery.

Be sure to check out our map of historic cemeteries throughout the State. And our flier with some best practices for cemetery clean ups!

Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios: Week 1

We have a special guest this fall...none other than Dr. Kathleen Deagan reporting from the dig out at Nombre de Dios running October 8 - November 30, 2018! Take it away Dr. Deagan:

Drone footage of Mission excavation, courtesy of Chad Light.
Archaeologists made an unexpected discovery at this spot in 2011. Coquina, tabby and oyster shell foundations were uncovered just inches under the sod, outlining a building of about 80 by 40 feet.  Artifacts found with the foundation date to the late 17th and early 18th centuries- indicating that the building is more than 300 years old.

The east half of the building was made of coquina block, and the west half of poured tabby cement. We currently suspect that the coquina section was built by the Spanish Governor Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar in 1677 in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of Milk and a Safe, Happy Delivery). The Governor boasted that “there was no other like it in the provinces."

Nombre de Dios site map, courtesy of Dr. Gifford Waters.
Drone footage of Mission excavation, courtesy of Chad Light.

That building was badly damaged in 1702, when James Moore, the then-Governor of British South Carolina, attacked and burned St. Augustine. The shrine was rebuilt, and a convento (monastery) was also built. We suspect that the tabby section of the building was the renovation and convent addition after 1702.

Our excavations are currently uncovering, cleaning, and mapping the foundations in order to test these hypotheses – was this the 1677 Shrine with the convento added after 1702? The layering of soil and post stains, along with the artifacts recovered in the soil, will help answer that question. 

Archaeologist excavate to reveal building foundation.
San Augustin Blue on White plate (1700-1750), courtesy Dr. Gifford Waters.

The 2018 excavation has four basic goals:
  1. To fully reveal and document the foundation with maps and photographs.
  2. To determine the sequence of building, and how the building itself was used.
  3. To document the foundation with photogrammetry and laser scanning in order to create a 3-D model.
  4. To assess the physical condition of the foundations themselves to determine if it will be possible to keep them exposed for public viewing. 

In pursuing these goals, we also expect to recover artifacts plant remains and animal bones that can help us understand details the life at the Mission.

1587  Mission Nombre de Dios established by Franciscans.
1606  216 native people and 20 "españoles" living at the Mission.
1620s Statue and Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Leche brought to the Mission.
1654  Smallpox epidemic nearly wiped out Mission occupants. 
          Friars were not in residence, but lived at the Convento de San Francisco in town.
1674  30 native people reported to be living at Nombre de Dios.
1677  Governor de Hita y Salazar reports "I have build a church for Our Lady (of La Leche) of 
          mortar and masonry, the only one like it in the province."
1689  20 families reported to be living at the Mission.
1702  Nombre de Dios attacked and burned by English Col James Moore.
1711  39 Timucuans reported to be living at the Mission.
1726  62 Timucuans and Chiluca Indians at the Mission- stone church and convent noted.
1728  Spaniards below up the stone building to prevent its use by the British. 
          Entire Mission community and Shrine moved to the other side of Hospital Creek.
1934  Christain Native American burials discovered in a 40 x 80 foot area.

Text and Images: Dr. Kathleen Deagan, except where noted. Special thanks to Chad Light for providing drone views of the site and Dr. Gifford Waters for site information and images.

Check back next week for on the dig or search #iDigNombreDeDios for updates from the field on social media!

All Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios:
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4/5

For further reading:
Unearthing a Rare Stone Mission Church in St. Augustine (2014)

And thank you to the Nombre de Dios 2018 field season sponsors!

Guidelines for Cemetery Cleanups

It's that time of year! Weather is cooling off, Halloween gets us in the mood to get out into local cemeteries, and Veterans Day is a poinent reminder to honor those who have served by tending to their final resting places.

Due to  cleanup efforts popping up all over the region, we put together this quick guide so cemetery stewards can keep on with the good efforts they intended and do no harm to cultural resources in their community.

Text and images of grave goods: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

Plant images: Wikipedia images based on information from Florida Master Site File historical cemetery form.

Nombre de Dios Cemetery Recording Project Completed

The Nombre de Dios Cemetery Recording Project is now complete!  We began the project in April and just had our final field day last week.  I cannot imagine a more beautiful or peaceful place to spend a work morning!

Of course you're now asking, what exactly occurred during this 5 month period Well...
  • 85 - Individual markers were transcribed, measured, assessed and photographed
  • 51 - 10 x 10 meter blocks were measured and mapped
  • 115 - Hours were worked in the field
  • 9 - Volunteers worked in the cemetery (not usually all at once) 

(If you want more details, see our April Nombre De Dios Cemetery Blog Post  when we kicked off the project).

So, the next logical question that could be asked is - why? Why would FPAN and volunteers spend so many hours working in Nombre De Dios Cemetery?  Well, because:

it's fun...

It's relaxing...

It's entertaining...


And above all, we know that we are protecting this information for generations to come.

volunteer recording a headstone in Nombre De Dios Cemetery

The Catholic Diocese does a great job of maintaining the cemetery.  But since 1884 (when the cemetery was established),  many of these markers have been broken and repaired multiple times structurally compromising the stone.

broken and repaired headstone in Nombre De Dios Cemetery

Another threat to the markers are hurricanes!  The  Nombre grounds encountered major flooding during Hurricanes Irma and Matthew.  The Diocese is working diligently to mitigate future flood damage.   But being located right on the water, Nombre de Dios will naturally be at risk with future storms and impending sea level rise.

coastal defenses in the works at Nombre De Dios Cemetery

The title of this post isn't entirely accurate since it's just the project's field work that is now complete.  The next step will be entering all of the recorded information into a google docs spreadsheet, digitizing the hand drawn maps and getting all of this information available to the public through RICHES.

So, my view has gone from this:
To this:

Stay tuned for our next cemetery recording project!

Text and Photos by FPAN Staff; Robbie Boggs

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