Monday, March 14, 2011

Did you know that the Fountain of Youth Park (FOY), a popular tourist attraction, is arguably the most significant archaeological site in St. Augustine?  Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the city's founder, landed at this very spot in 1565 with 800 soldiers and colonists.  This is also the site of his first encampment among the Timucuan Indians who occupied a village at the park under the Cacique Seloy.  A few years later, the Franciscan friars established the first Indian mission of Nombre de Dios close by.  Many important first events in our City's history happened at the Fountain of Youth Park.

We know this because Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Distinguished Research Curator of Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, has been conducting excavations here for 35 years.  She has documented a thousand years of Timucuan Indian occupation at this site, as well as the first encampment of Pedro Menendez and the initial location of the Nombre de Dios Mission.  

Dr. Deagan in the field at Fountain of Youth in 2006.

It was also at Fountain of Youth that I first learned of Dr. Deagan appreciation of Tai Chi.  When I asked her if this rumor was true, she credited the martial art with her agility needed to do archaeology.  Makes sense!  We do need to bound in and out of units, and hold our positions from feet up to our shoulders as we trowel down on delicate features.

In the spirit of Florida Archaeology Month, join us this Wednesday, March 16th starting at 10:30 am for an update on archaeology out at Fountain of Youth by City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt.  Taking a page from Dr. Deagan, the lecture will be followed by a Qi-Gong/Yoga class led by Steve Shomo from Syner-Qi at 11 am.  (Qi-Gong, as I learned from Steve, is an earlier form of Tai Chi). 

Bring your yoga mat!

City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt also contributes to archaeology at FOY.

Feature found during the 2006 field season.

View from the water screen at FOY.

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