On August first, the FPAN crew headed out to Anastasia Island to help reverse the stigma of the archaeological site known as Mala Compra- Mala Compra meaning
"bad purchase." At the peak of its era, the Mala Compra plantation was a part of the Northeast Florida plantation system. Between 1816 and 1836, the plantation produced sea island cotton, cotton that is known for its long fibers and silky feel. As it was in the 1800’s, this cotton is the most valuable and costly cotton on the market. After 20 years of sea island cotton production, Mala Compra was burned down by the Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole war.
Fast forwarding about 170 years we now find ourselves at the grand opening of the Mala Compra site. After receiving historical recognition in March, the outside exhibit lured not only the whole Northeast Region FPAN crew, but state and local officials along with people of the archaeological community and the public at large, as well. About 115 people in all watched with excitement the cutting of the ribbon, officially welcoming the public to come and learn about the plantation that once stood on the island site.
The focus of the grand opening was the amazing open-air exhibit which featured the remains of the plantation. Located above the site, visitors are able to walk along catwalks and get a bird’s eye view of what is left. Visitors were elated to see that the features can be illuminated with the push of a button and moreover some stations even have audio to describe and explain the points of interest. Another stimulating element of the Mala Compra site is the displays of artifacts found during the excavation. Sherds of pottery, pieces of pipe, and even a child’s boot spur are among the displayed items.
This site is open to the public during daylight hours and promises to bring archaeological history into anyone’s life. The FPAN crew was honored to be a part of the grand opening and hopes that a more positive light will be shed on Mala Compra’s future.