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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 August 2013

St. Augustine Archaeology: Land and Sea

I was talking with a friend last night, and she said, "You know, I've never heard anyone speak poorly of St. Augustine." Although many of the people she's referencing are likely tourists, the notion rings true: there is something special about St. Augustine and its place in history--this makes the region perfect for public archaeology.


View facing south from the Bridge of Lions, downtown St. Augustine


As summer comes to an end and the students return for fall semester, two local archaeological investigations also came to a close, echoing how this setting is a centerpiece for archaeology outreach, education and research.

Recently, we joined the LAMP , underwater archaeologists (a program of the St. Augustine Lighthouse) for their final dives of the season on the Storm Wreck (also see the Record article). It is wonderful to have such a dedicated group of maritime preservationists nearby!


The LAMP crew after a few dives cleaning up baselines, the dredge, and debris

This tapper was discovered recently. Was it for water? beer? 

Brendan does a far better Zissou member than Ryan


Meanwhile the City Archaeologist of St. Augustine, Carl Halbirt, is wrapping up work at a St. John's II prehistoric site near east May Street, north of downtown St. Augustine. He has tremendous support from the SAAA, landowners, and other volunteers.  The site was occupied by Native Americans sometime in-between four and eight-hundred years ago, and serves as a reminder that people were living in St. Augustine long before the Spanish arrived--living off of the myriad aquatic resources of the intracoastal and freshwater creeks.

SAAA volunteers excavate post-molds and other clues of human habitation

Features must be excavated and screened separately

The crew sets up shade before a photograph 

FPAN will continue to work alongside LAMP, and with the city archaeologist and SAAA members to promote archaeology and preservation. While some local field research is ending, FPAN is gearing up to carry our 'archaeological' message to the masses, using these wonderful resources (and others!) right here in St. Augustine, to spread throughout our 7-county region. 




Field Trip Recomendations: Part 2

Here's Part 2 of our Field Trip Recommendations blog featuring St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia Counties. Check our Part 1 featuring Nassau, Duval and Clay here!

St. Johns County
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum teaches visitors about maritime history and archaeology including lighthouses, shipwrecks and more. The programs are $5.50 to $11 per student, depending on program, $8.75 per adult and free for teachers and bus drivers.

Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos teaches visitors about the Spanish colonization of Florida. This National Park Service Park does not offer guided programs but does have free online curriculum to use before, during and after your trip. They also have regularly scheduled cannon firings complete with Spanish
soldiers. Admission is free for kids under 15 and $7 per adult.


Fort Matanzas
Fort Matanzas teaches visitors about the history of the Spanish, French and British political relationships throughout colonial Florida. This National Park Service Park offers short, regularly programmed ranger programs while you take a boat ride across the bay to the fort. Admission is free.

Fort Mose
Fort Mose teaches visitors about the first free African settlement in what is now the United States, founded in 1738, and all of the cultures that influenced it including Spanish, African and Native American traditions. The State Park has outdoor displays and an indoor museum and offers guided tours by request. Admission is $2 per person and free for children under 5.

Colonial Quarter
The Colonial Quarter teaches visitors about colonial life in Florida during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries including a look at how archaeologists study the past. The living history museum offers guided tours that features interactive activities. Admission is $6 per child and $10 per adult, with a complimentary chaperon admission for every 10 children.

Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park teaches visitors about the first Spanish in Florida and their interactions with the Timucuan peoples as well as how archaeologists have uncovered their stories. Living history reinactors will guide groups through the various exhibits and displays. Admission is $6-7, depending on the age of students, with 2 free teacher admissions per 30 students and $12 per adult.


Old Florida Museum
The Old Florida Museum teaches visitors about Florida history from Native Americans through the pioneer era in the 19th century. The museum offers specific hands on programs about Timucua Indians, Spanish Colonial life, Florida Cracker Pioneers, Archaeological Digs and Black History. School groups can do any combination of programs they choose. Admission is $5.50 per person, per program.

Putnam County
Putnam County Historical Society Museum and Bronson-Mulholland House
The Putnam County Historical Society offers tours of the Museum and the Bronson-Mulhollad House to school groups. The museum teaches about history in Putnam County and the House features life in the 19th century. Tours are free. Call to set up a date: 386-385-3975.


Flagler County
Florida Agricultual Museum
The Florida Agricultural Museum teaches visitors about the Florida’s agricultural history, focusing on 19th century homesteads and Florida Crackers. The museum offers guided tours that include touring an 1890s farmhouse, hands on farming activities and meeting farm animals. Admission is $8 per person. 


Volusia County
Pioneer Settlement
Pioneer Settlement teaches visitors about the life of pioneers in Florida during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The living history museum offers hands on, guided educational programs focusing on pioneers, Seminole Indians, Timucuan Indians and general Florida history. Admission is $5 per person.

DeBary Hall
DeBary Hall teaches visitors about life in the 19th century along the St. Johns River. The living history museum offers free lesson plans online that can culminate in a trip to the museum. Topics include art and architecture, ecology, health and leisure, innovation and local history. Admission is $3 per student and $5 per chaperone.

Field Trip Recommendations: Part 1

With the school year starting, we know teachers are hard at work with plans for the year. We've gotten quite a few questions about places to visit on field trips and thought we could help out with a blog! Here's some of our recommendations for field trips that will teach students about Florida's rich history and how archaeologists study it. Part 1 features Nassau, Duval and Clay Counties. Part 2 will feature St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia.


Nassau County
Amelia Island Museum of History
The Amelia Island Museum of History teaches visitors about local history, from native peoples through 20th century life in Florida. Educational tours focus on general Florida history, specific Nassau County history, architecture of Fernandina, Timucuan people and Victoria life. Some feature walking tours of downtown Fernandina. Admission is $4 per student and $7 per adult.

Fort Clinch
Fort Clinch teaches visitors about military life in Florida during the 19th century including the Seminole, Spanish-American and Civil Wars. The fort features a group of living history reinactors to guide visitors through the park. Admission is free if you send the park a letter requesting a fee waiver and explaining the importance of the trip to your curriculum.

Duval County
Fort Caroline
Fort Caroline teaches visitors about the French in Florida at a replica of the first French fort. A visitor center also focuses on the native peoples and environments that were here before them. This National Park Service Park offers free guided trips for school groups as well as free online curriculum for before, during and after trips. Admission to the fort and visitor center is free.


Kingsley Plantation
Kingsley Plantation teaches visitors about slavery and plantation life during the early 1800s. This National Park Service offers two guided programs for different age groups as well numerous curriculum guides for before, during and after visits, available online for free. (The Florida Public Archaeology Network also has a program about the archaeology of slave cabins at Kingsley, available at www.projectarchaeology.org.) Admission to the park is free.




Museum of Science and History
The Museum of Science and History teaches visitors about the history of Florida as well as subjects in science including astronomy, natural sciences and physical sciences. The Museum offers education programs that feature these topics. Admission to the museum is $4 per person and program fees are an additional $4 per person.


Mandarin Museum
The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society teaches visitors about life in Florida during the late 1800s through the early 1900s. This museum offers guided tours of the museum and historic structures on the property. Admission is $6-8 per student, depending on program choice.


Clay County
Camp Chowenwaw
Camp Chowenwaw offers a wide variety of programs about ecology and biology. They offer one program about the basics of archaeology provide by the Florida Public Archaeology Network and aimed at grades 4-6. Admission is free.

Monday Morning Book Review: Hurricane Dancers



It's the end of hurricane season in Florida and soon students will be going back to school, hitting the books.  As many history classes will begin with cursory study of Native Americans before launching into age of conquistadors, may I recommend you take an evening before going back to school to read Margarita Engle's Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck.  I found this book on the National Council of Social Studies list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People.  For it's description of characters, subsistence, and emphasis on diversity in the Caribbean, it certainly earns it's notable title.

Unlike most YA historical fiction I've read, this story is told in poetic verse, "I listen to the song of creaking planks, the roll and sway of clouds in the sky, wild music, and thunder, the groans of wood, a mourning moan as this old ship remembers her true self, her tree self, rooted and growing, alive, on shore (p.3)." The short cast of characters includes: main protagonist Quebrado, young boy of Taino and Spanish descent who is a slave aboard the ship; Bernardino de Talavera, minor conquistador who Engle dubs the first pirate of the Caribbean; and Alonso de Ojeda, cruel conquistador who sailed with Columbus and also becomes Talavera's captive.

The three intersect on a pirate ship that is not just a setting, but a character.  As readers of fiction know, the origin of characters matter--give you essential back story.  Underwater archaeologists make use of this fact by studying boat building as a way to further understand shipwrecks.  In a previous post (Monday Morning Book Review: Shipwreck) I praised the authors for starting their story where maritime research begins, at the boat works.   While we tend to focus on the science and construction of boat building, Hurricane Dancers gives a poetic alternative perspective of this very process: "memories of bearded men who capture tree-spirits, and turn them into wooden ships that serve as floating cages (59)." 


In addition to boat building, the book also gives multiple perspectives on subsistence.  Characters meet their basic need for food by foraging, hunting, early agriculture, and aquaculture.  Aboard the ship Quebrado yearns for food from his life before slavery: "I am eager to plant yams, peanuts, and papayas, and pluck hollow gourds from tangled vines to make musical maraca rattles.  I long to eat pineapples that taste like golden sunlight, instead of dry ship's bread, and salted beef, and sorrow (p. 58)."  On land, he also hunts according to his custom, "on the slopes of a mountain...grabbing the slender trunks of trembling saplings, and shaking them to make iguanas fall.  Then I roast the giant lizards, listening as branches whisper and sing in a gentle breeze (61)."

Aquaculture is another strategy demonstrated in the book.  A Ciboney Indian fisherman describes his actions in verse: "I work alone, catching silvery marsh fish in tapered baskets, chasing swift river fish into stone traps, and wrapping the sea's great gold-belly fish in nets that fly out of the waves like wings (60)."  As an archaeologist I appreciated the description of artifacts we find in wet-site environments: fishing weirs (traps in estuaries), net gauges and weights, and of course fish bones and scales. 

As much as I enjoyed the accuracy of subsistence, I had a hard time digesting information on the pirates.  Archaeologists are generally skeptical of pirates and try and steer the public away from the perception of them as swashbuckling heroes.  Pirates were in historical times what terrorists are today, not a subject to take lightly.  It's also difficult archaeologically to determine if a shipwreck was ever a pirate ship.  The same hardware, tools, and personal objects found on board a merchant or naval ship are the same as those found on so called pirate ships.  I wanted to know more about Talavera and vet him has an historical figure, but came up short.  Searching on the internet, most of the pages came up in Spanish.  The only article in English was Washington Irving's (1831:83) description of Talavera as "one of the loose, heedless adventurers who abounded in Santo Domingo."

Although I wasn't able to verify Talavera as an accurate historical figure, the search brought about new questions: because the sources are in Spanish, is he an obscure figure in general or just to Americans and English speakers?  Or is his vagueness intended to demonstrate the gray scale from Quebrado as a fictional character to Ojeda as a more thoroughly researched historical figure?  Perhaps Talavera can serve as a caution for readers to remain critical in their thinking and further explore alternative tellings of history. He does serve the purpose to convey historical information, such as his rant on Amerigo Vespucci as, "just a merchant on one my of ships....the true honor of claiming this vast wilderness still rightful belongs to me.  Someday, all maps and charts will proclaim the Alonsos, not the Americas (p. 21)!" 

In addition to NCSS's notable listing, Hurricane Dancers also won the Pura Belpre Honor Book Award that honors a "Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."  As Florida continues to commemorate 500 years since Juan Ponce de Leon's voyage along the coast in 1513 and the City of St. Augustine marks 450 years since it's founding by Pedro Menendez in 1565, I will keep the story of Hurricane Dancers close at heart.  Quebrado, as a blend of Taino and Spanish blood, reminds us that the early 16th century was more diverse than American's typically understand. 

For celebration of that diversity and immersing yourself in the eye of the 500th/450th storms, I highly recommend this book.

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff
Cover image and excerpts: Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, New York, 2011.

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