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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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Archive for June 2011

Don't Miss St. Augustine's Oldest Maps at the Oldest House Museum

Oldest House Museum Map Exhibit with Boazio Map 1589
I just spent a fascinating two hours at the Oldest House Museum's new exhibit entitled 5 Centuries of Our Coast - A Visual History of the Nation's Oldest City and its Shores.  This is a wonderful exhibit covering 500 years of St. Augustine maps in the Page Edwards Gallery at the Oldest House Museum Complex.  The exhibit was created by Susan Parker and Megan Wilson.

I have always been fascinated by maps, especially very old maps and what they can reveal about the past. When I moved to St. Augustine, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the wonderful map collection at the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library and Oldest House Museum.  Carl Halbirt, the City Archaeologist, always uses maps as the first step in preparing to conduct an archaeological survey in the City.  St. Augustine is blessed with a long chronology of maps depicting the European city through time.  These maps are curated at the Library in a special room in large flat map drawers.  In the past, with special permission and clean hands, one could gain access to this gold mine of information.  As a volunteer with Carl, I could occasionally indulge my desire to immerse myself in the old maps of St. Augustine.

Albert Cantino's Planisphere Map from 1502 - first map to show the coast of Florida
2009 Satellite Image of the Gulf Stream
But now, voila, reproductions and enlargements of the old maps are accessible to anyone with an interest in St. Augustine and its maps. The exhibit will be at the gallery for two years and is free to St. Johns County residents.  The span of St. Augustine and Florida history covered by the maps in the exhibit begins with a 1502 map showing part of the coast of Florida and ends with a 21st century satellite image of the Gulf Stream. 

I have volunteered on a number of St. Augustine archaeology projects in the past decade and most of them have benefited from a review of appropriate maps.  Maps help archaeologists determine where to begin to excavate and how to interpret the data.   University of Florida Archaeologist, Dr. Kathleen Deagan, has been excavating at the Fountain of Youth and Mission of Nombre de Dios since the 1970's.  Early maps of the waterways and coast line helped her establish through archaeology where the City's founder, Pedro Menendez landed and settled and where the first Franciscan mission to the Timucua Indians, Nombre de Dios, was located.
Map of St. Augustine and Neighborhood by H.S. Wyllie 1898 

Dr. Deagan says that the property maps of St. Augustine made during the 18th century are particularly helpful in doing archaeology at sites in the City. When St. Augustine transferred hands from Spanish to British rule in 1764, the Elixio de la Puente Map of the town's properties, was drawn to assist with the transfer of the town to the incoming English.  Today it helps archaeologists establish the quarters or neighborhoods where the soldiers, craftsmen and government officials resided as well as the location of "Indian Towns" outside the town walls.   Twenty years later, Florida was returned to Spanish rule.  The Rocque Map of 1788, another property map of the town, was drawn.  This map accurately documents the changes in configuration of the individual properties at the end of Florida's British period by showing lot lines, housing materials and ownership. 

Plan of the Fort and City of St. Augustine, Florida by Juan Joseph Eligio de la Puenta 1764

Plano Particular de la Ciudad de San Agustin by Mariano de la Rocque 1788
Because the town tended to grow on the highest elevations, Lydar elevation maps help to trace the expansions of the old town over time. 

Example of Lydar Map
In our modern era, the Intracoastal Waterway opened up a highway for boating from New Jersey all the way to Miami.  Maps of the Intracoastal from the Georgia line to St. Augustine are included in the exhibit.  In the early 20th century Bird's Eye View maps and a series of Sanborn Insurance Maps of streets and buildings provided detailed information on the building footprints on lots and building additions and demolitions over time.  All of this information assists archaeologist's in the planning and interpretation of excavations.
Intracoastal Waterway chart from Nassau Sound to Matanzas Inlet 1952

Bird's Eye View of the City of St. Augustine by Henry Wellge 1885

Maps are a window into the past and a great asset to archaeologists who can then fill in the details of life in colonial St. Augustine.  I highly recommend a visit to the Oldest House Museum's St. Augustine map exhibit.

Archaeology on the Air

Wonder what you've been missing in northeast Florida archaeology this summer?  Tune in to hear me on the radio this Sunday!  I joined Jim Byard of Renda Broadcasting a couple of weeks ago to discuss the ins & outs of archaeology and dish the dirt on local digs.

The show airs Sunday, June 19 from 6-6:30a.m.  You can tune in to four different Jacksonville stations to catch it:

 Lite 96.1
Country Legends 100.7
Sunny 94.1
Gator 99.9

Or find the show online at http://www.wejz.com/

And if anyone knows how to record streaming audio on a computer, please let me know!

"What Is It???" Wednesday: MOSH edition

Beware: I know what this point is and I'm not afraid to use it!

This past weekend we helped Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History (MOSH) mark the opening of their Savage Sea's display by paneling an event.  An archaeologist, paleontologist, and malacologist would be on site to identify mystery objects brought in by the public.  Don't worry, in keeping with archaeology and museum ethics, no monetary amounts were given or considered.  Our interest was in what information we could provide the public and encouraging appreciation of the potential data of archaeological sites.

The day furnished a four month supply for "What is it???" Wednesdays, but here were a few highlights we could use your help with to identify.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

(or to be technical, what are THEY)

Special thanks to MOSH for organizing the event, to paleontologist Dr. Barry Albright, malacologist Harry Lee, and to University of North Florida student Jennifer Knutson for volunteering and aiding me in IDs.

Last week's answer:
Via Facebook Judi Canavan correctly guess the top of a flag pole.  Well done Judi, Archaeology of New Smyrna is yours!

Text and Photos: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

"What Is It???" Wednesday: New Smyrna Edition

I went down to visit Dot Moore and meet with the planners in New Smyrna Beach.  At the museum Dot showed me this artifact they recently recovered from a canal trench.  Dot has a good guess, but you'll have to wait until next week to hear.  So, what says you?


Top view of artifact with scale.

Underside of artifact with scale.
Who ever guesses correctly (or at least matches or betters Dot's best guess) gets an Archaeology of the New Smyrna Colony booklet.  I'll send you two if you can tell me the date of New Smyrna's archaeology ordinance (yes, they have one)!


Thanks to Ralph Mills for giving us his best guess: a holy stone used for scrubbing the deck of ships!  I can't say with certainty that's what it is, but we appreciate turning us in the maritime direction.  We'll keep checking, thanks Ralph!

For reference I looked at a holy stone in the artifact case (below) from Piquant Photos: Portsmouth Dockyard Museum Photos blog taken by Bhaskar Dasgupta. 

Text and photos: Sarah Miller except last photo by Bhaskar Dasgupta viewed on 6/6/11.

Divers Down at HADS

Imagine a world where before every dive the captain states: Don’t take anything from the wreck, or don’t get back on my boat.  Thus is the dream of HADS.  The acronym stands for Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar, a program developed by Della Scott-Ireton and Debra Shefi five years ago. The program aims to provide PADI, NAUI, and SSI dive instructors will all the information, tools, and resources to teach heritage awareness as a specialty course.

Amber and Sarah suited up for submerged resources.

Class in session at Marathon Garden Club.
Class time focused on sea faring culture and how shipwrecks observed by archaeologists underwater translates to how people lived and met their basic needs in the past. After appreciation for wrecks as non-renewable cultural resources was established, the course continued along currents of preservation law, conservation, and heritage tourism themes. The day ended with a briefing of the practicum component of the course: diving on shipwrecks!

HADS graduates ready to hit the water!
The next day we visited two wrecks: the nineteenth-century Brick Wreck and seventeenth-century Mystery Wreck. Both wrecks are located within NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and have been previously recorded as submerged archaeological sites.
First up was the Brick Wreck at 14 ft.   This wreck may have been used for cargo transport in the mid nineteenth-century, possibly even taking bricks to Fort Jefferson.  The site itself appeard dim green with particulate matter. This might sound less than ideal, but coming from St. Augustine the visibility (aka viz) was OUTSTANDING!!! I could see! Hands, feet, and sand! I adjusted my breathing to control buoyancy and struck out my limbs like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. My buddies, Chuck and Amber, floated until we hovered over the wreck. We could see planking and frames and followed the contours up and down the side.
Planview of the Brick Wreck.

Dr. Della gives briefing before we take our giant stride.
Lobster greets us under planking and frames of the wreck.

Jeff holds white stoneware sherd, fits ca. 1830s date of wreck.

Being the first shipwreck I could see I was surprised by the crowd of people.  In all 23 class participants surrounded the site and tried to organize to not collide underwater.  Irina Sorset looked like a veteran, cool sea cucumber by viewing the site.  She faced the site without kicking up the sea floor (or kicking another diver in the face!).   Another veteran underwater was Brenda Altmeier from NOAA who recorded coral and made notes on condition of the site. I floated over to Jeff Moates who observed a white stoneware bowl fragment and thin glass.

Before moving on I want to make a point about site preservation.  The Brick Wreck is disappearing as parts of the site have been removed either by people or natural causes. Case in point, the night before we dined at a restaurant with a wall made out of brick from the site. What salvagers might not have known is that the ballast and brick coverage actually protected the site timbers. Without the cover the timbers are rapidly disappearing and soon there will be nothing left of the site. We observed only one intact brick on the wreck, there used to be thousands!  For more, read the site report

Wall at Sea Colony restaurant make from bricks off our wreck.

We got back in the boat for a 10 minute ride to our second site, the Mystery Wreck. Once in the water we saw an immediate difference. The water was clearer, bluer, and the marine life flourished. Brain coral, sea fans, and fire coral (don’t touch!) greeted us on the sea floor. The Mystery Wreck looked completely different. Treasure salvagers had cut into the side of the wreck, rather than cutting down from top to bottom, which left channels of exposed frames and sea floor underneath heaps and heaps of ballast. We saw whole timbers and iron fasteners in situ in the spaces between the cement. Vertical iron bolts indicated where timbers once existed.

View of granel, cement ballast between boards.

Della shared her experiences from recording the site with Deb. Significantly, the Mystery Wreck featured cement, called granel, between frames.  The mixture poured directly into the cavity between the bottom and ceiling planking served as permanent ballast between the boards. This technique was used by the Spanish during the 17th century and then again in modern times with modern cement. Other 17th-century shipwrecks that feature granel icnlude the Atocha and the Santa Rosa Island wreck in the Pensacola.  Good eye Deb and Della! 

Fire coral.

Scleroscopy, or dating of coral, was done here to help date the site.

Brenda Altmeie of NOAA counts coral.
I could not accept Chuck's sign to surface. The 41 minutes at 23 feet went too fast.
My overall summation of HADS: I’m embarrassed I hadn’t done it sooner. So many questions over the last few years I could have answered better.  For example, last week the VandenburgAtocha, and sunken airplanes all came up. I can now talk more intelligently about artificial reefs like Spiegel Grove, about the Keys Marine Sanctuary, and dive culture thanks to HADS.  It certainly made me more passionate about these sites and stoked a desire to learn more.

The next HADS is being offered in St. Petersburg September 15 and 16th.  For more information on HADS contact us at northeast@flpublicarchaeology.org or Dr Della Scott-Ireton, dscottireton@uwf.edu.

Frank and Shirley, the Hendersons, grey Angel Fish

Another Keys treasure, ground owls.
FPAN covers Florida, from Nassau and Escambia county tips to Monroe County tail!
Special thanks to Della Scott-Ireton and Jeff Moates for planning HADS and to Irina Sorset, Franklin Price, and Brenda Altmeier from NOAA.  Special thanks to Chuck Meide for again keeping me alive underwater as dive instructor extraordinaire and congratulations to Amber on her final check dive!   

Text: Sarah Miller
Photo credits: Sarah Miller, Amber Grafft-Weiss and Chuck Meide

"What Is It???" Wednesday: Lagrimario and new mystery

Between sessions at Ortega Elementary yesterday a teacher, married to a geologist, brought this artifact to my attention and asked for help in identification.  Needless to say, she stumped this chump!  I have no idea.  I could make a few guesses, but what's better for WIIW than an authentic mystery? 


45 degree angle showing profile and top of stone artifact.

View of the top of the artifact.

Please post a comment with your best guess.

Last WIIW answer:

The artifact in question is a lagrimario.  According to Deagan's Artifacts of the Spanish Colonies of Florida and the Caribbean, Volume 2 (p. 101) the clear glass heart was possibly used as a receptacle for wept tears.  Break a Spanish senorita's heart back in colonial times and you could receive the vile vial!  The artifact pictured at left was found in St. Augustine.
Please comment if you know anything more about this Spanish Colonial custom!  I am curious at what age this was done, as tweens today might appreciate the drama of the gesture, but require a larger library as Google and Proctor Library are tapped out of resources.  Kathy's original source: Concepcion Alarcon Roman's 1987 publication Catalago de amuletos del Museo del Pueblo Espanol.  Madrid: Ministerio de Cultural.  (pardon omission of accents, not able to insert in blogger).

I want this book TODAY!!  Later won't do!

I'm afraid Agotago may mean sold out?

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