this blog post is the last in a 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.
As we reached the final days of our visits to the archaeological site at Flagler College's Communications Parking Lot, we began wondering what would be an appropriate way to end this journey. We decided the best way would be to return where our journey began: the site itself. The last page in our journey made us all think about what we had learned and offered us all a chance to see the site again--some of us for the first time in months.
By the time I had returned to the dig site, almost two months after my initial visit, the landscape had changed dramatically. Most of the holes were filled in and the dig seemed to be nearing its end; my fears were assuaged when I saw that there were new units being excavated. Carl, Nick, and the rest of the volunteers were gathered around a deep square hole; they had decided to call it a day early due to the incoming clouds that signaled a rainstorm was on its way. I managed to arrive at just the right moment.
|Shaker Screen at the Communications Building site. Photo by Clayton Junkins.|
When I peered into the freshly excavated dig site, I was astonished by what lay before me; within the hole was a perfectly preserved Minorcan well. For weeks I had heard of wells, bones, tools, and pottery being discovered. The tabby foundation had been partially reburied, so it was nice to see that the crew had discovered something else that was so well preserved. When discussing it with a friend of mine, who worked for FPAN while attending Flagler, he was amazed to find out that the well was circular--he had mainly seen square-shaped wells scattered throughout the city.
|Coquina well. Photo by Clayton Junkins.|
In closing, my time visiting and listening to others discuss the dig site has been an enlightening experience. St. Augustine is a city rich with history. If this dig site proves one thing it is that you never know what lies right beneath your feet in St. Augustine. For years students, faculty, and staff have walked over what they believed to be a simple parking lot, unaware that evidence of a past culture lie only a few feet beneath where they tread. Through the work of St. Augustine archaeologists I now have a greater application for the city's undiscovered treasures.
|Tabby floor or road surface. Photo by Brittany Martin|
By visiting the dig, we learned a lot about the inner workings of the archaeological procedure. I was particularly fascinated by the idea that people threw things down wells and how the water preserves the items. We are usually taught that water destroys and the idea that it can preserve seeds from through time is not only strange, but also seems miraculous! I also learned about the process of making an informed idea of identifying an artifact's age by the popularity of its markings or style. Determining the type of pottery from its painted pattern and paste (clay from which it is made) is astounding. Who would have known pottery fads would help archaeologists so much? Overall, I think this dig really helped us learn about archaeology, but also about the history of the town that we like to call home. I was extremely grateful for this opportunity and I hope to volunteer with the St. Augustine Archaeological Association again!
|Carl Halbirt prepares to cover a site before the rain. Photo by Kayleigh Gades.|
Work continues at the old Communications parking lot of Flagler College. Since I was last at the site, old digs have been filled in and new ones have taken their place. In fact, they will soon be moving the dig from the back of the lot to the front, filling in the old sites and digging new ones. Though it is bittersweet to see the sites filled in, there is much information the archaeologists have gained from the digs. Still, we may never know the answers to the mysteries of the chicken burial or tabby foundation--but that is part of the process as well.
|Dig site where the knife and another well were found on my first visit, now covered. Photo by Kayleigh Gades.|
One of the most substantial finds at the dig site is also one of the newest and here there is no mystery. there is clearly a well in the site and it is almost completely preserved; from its rough outer edges--which the residents would not have seen while the well was in use--to the smooth inner shaft of the well. The find is amazing, but it could also be temporary. Since Flagler College has plans to build in the area, a plan must be created to save part, if not all, of the well. A few ideas have been discussed with the school, including a clear flooring placed over the well so people could view it as they walked by or removing part of the well and placing it at an above-ground location so it can be enjoyed by others. Personally, I think walking over the well on the way to class would be amazing, but that could just be the nerd in me. Either way, the find is remarkable and should be preserved in some form or fashion.
|Coquina well with smooth inside and rough exterior. Photo by Kayleigh Gades.|
As a group, we returned to the site for a final meeting to see what has happened since we all last visited. The dig team had come a long way since I had last been to the site with the discovery of an entire well. Previously they had found signs of wells in various different units within the Communications Building parking lot. This well, however, was completely intact. Now the team has to make a decision on what to do with the well since construction is going to take place in the near future. One of the ideas that struck me the most was to put a clear glass covering over it so that, after the construction, people could still see the well underneath their feet.
|Intact well. Photo by Erik Hendricksen.|
St. Augustine was one of the first cities to enact a law that made it mandatory for an archaeology team to inspect a proposed construction site. Now many cities in America have followed in their footsteps to preserve history that may otherwise have been destroyed. Right in the back parking lot of the Communications Building at Flagler, there's a well that's hundreds of years old that may have been destroyed in the building process if not for the archaeologists.
Being able to watch and learn what the local archaeologists were digging up was such a treat. I found myself eagerly looking forward to what they found and the photos that my fellow group members have taken. I learned so much about how a dig works. It is far more than digging. Unearthing a lost past is so thrilling and I look forward to keeping up with future digs. St. Augustine has so much to offer--you just have to look underneath the surface.
|Archaeology blog team: Erik Hendricksen, Brittany Martin, Clayton Junkins, Kayleigh Gades, and Meghan Crawford. Photo by Nick McAuliffe.|
Want to find out what you missed? Read the blog team's previous posts at the following links: