Monday, April 8, 2013

Note: this blog post is part of an ongoing series written by Flagler College History students working on site with St. Augustine's City Archaeologist.  This post reflects on a site visit prior to the second blog entry.  You can visit the Flagler Public History blog here.

Blog author with archaeology team

The dig behind the Communications building was in full swing when I arrived.  Tarps covered the parking lot and you could just see the tops of the archaeologists' and volunteers' heads as they peeked out of the tops of these massive holes.  The first stop on the tour of the dig site was the beginnings of an excavation into one of the many wells on one site.

Top of well shaft with artifacts

This find could be a treasure trove of information on the site as many people of the time would throw garbage and whatnot down the well shaft after it was no longer used as a well.  The water would preserve many things, from a pair of shoes to seeds of plants that were buried in the area.  The well had not been opened yet, so the findings have yet to be unearthed.

The next stop on the tour of the site led us to the previously discussed tabby flooring.  The team had found that the floor was much longer than they had anticipated and was divided into a section.  Ideas on the purpose of this structure ranged from stable to storage.  The team is working to discover the true purpose of the tabby floor and the structure it was part of.

The tabby floor lay only a few feet away from a much deeper and larger rectangular hole where the team had uncovered a few pipe stems, the edge of a structure's foundation, and the burial of a medium-sized dog.  The team and Carl Halbirt were working diligently to unearth the edge of a structure as well as the dog remains.  The dog had been buried, suggesting it had been a beloved pet.  The running gag about the pipe stems being located right above the dog burial was that it could be misconstrued that the dog's pipe smoking had led to its demise.  This was, however, very far from the truth.  As to the structure's use, at the time of my visit little was known.  The team, however, will be sure to uncover its purpose.

Partially exposed dog skeleton

Lastly, I was brought to the sieves, where dirt had been separated from some interesting and exciting finds.  First I was shown a few pieces of pottery that had the most beautiful blue and white paintings on them.  The patterns of each piece could help the team identify the time period it was created, as they could match the style of pattern to the time when it was most popular.  These pieces of pottery dated back to the British Period--and even to the First Spanish Period.  Next was a piece of Native American pottery.  It had a much darker brown color and thin raised lines that covered its surface.  The Native Americans themselves would not have used the piece this fragment belonged to; it would have been made by the natives for use by the Spanish or British who commissioned the work.  I was also shown the jaw of the dog, which had been removed from the pit.

Screen showing a variety of artifacts, including partial pipe bowl, pottery and glass door knob

 The Communication Building dig has already found many interesting things about the past of St. Augustine, and has so much more to offer.  The team is working hard to unearth the rest of the site's secrets, and soon we will know even more about the uses of this lot before it became part of Flagler College.

Text by Brittany Martin
Photos by Moises Sztylerman and Nick McAuliffe

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