Archaeologists excavated this small, fist-shaped ornament from the first settlement site of St. Augustine. A Spanish colonist may have made it as a protective amulet for one of the first babies born in 16th century Florida.
Figas were protective amulets that were often given to infants to ward off the evil eye and offer other protections. This particular one was found at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida. This is the location of the initial settlement of St. Augustine, occupied from September 1565 through the spring of 1566.
This figa was made of bone and at one time was coated in black, likely to make it look more like jade, which is what most figas were made of. While it’s uncertain who exactly this particular figa was made for, it’s possible that it was for little Martín de Argüelles who is the first documented European born in what is now the United States.
Collection Manager, Historical Archaeology
Florida Museum of Natural History
From St. Johns Co., Florida
Dates to AD 1565
Spanish Colonial Archaeology