Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sometimes exploring new areas does bode well for an explorer. During his travels throughout the southeastern United States, William Bartram contributed significantly to our understanding and knowledge of nature in the Southeast. A naturalist, Bartram traveled to eight states, including Florida, in order to observe and record the natural world. Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park became a favored spot when Bartram visited in 1774. He also recorded the activities and customs of Native American groups such as the Seminoles, Creeks, and Cherokees. In 1768, Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician, set out to establish a colony along Florida's east coast (present day New Smyrna). Although the colony failed after only nine years, Turnbull's attempt to settle in Florida created an impressive agricultural enterprise and generated a culture presence for Minorcans that continues today. In the spirit of well known explorers such as Christopher Colombus and Juan Ponce de Leon, I headed to Ormond Beach to see what lands, peoples, animals, plants I could discover.

I was in luck! Ames Park, a beautiful gardens with benches and paths next to the Halifax River, awaited me. I took in the natural beauty of the area. Since it was an adventure day, I had to investigate everything. My curiosity led to my favorite find of the day! A seal carved into a nearby concrete post. Despite my fascination with a new friend, I traveled on. Walking the peaceful paths and marveling at the gorgeous gardens and birds feeding, I decided to explore the most interesting part of Ames Park-- a burial mound across the street.

Preserved in the 1980s, the Ormond Burial Mound is one of the most intact burials mounds in eastern Florida. Salvage excavations indicate that the Timucua began utilizing the mound around 800 A.D. Over 100 individual burials remain in the mound. Mounds take their shape as the bones of individual Native Americans are bundled together after the body decomposes, laid on the existing layer, and covered with sand. The Ormond Beach Historical Society offers excellent information about the mound online.

Although it appears small in pictures, the burial mound is quite impressive. Also noteworthy is how the community embraces its existence. Ormond Beach campaigned to preserve it and now the mound serves as an impressive reminder of the history and archaeology that binds an area.

Exploration can be rewarding! Perhaps I did not discover a new world or a new species (unless concrete seals count), but I found some natural and archaeological wonders.

View from Ames Park.

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