Spanish Musket Ball

  • Spanish Musket Ball
  • Spanish Musket Ball

Christopher Columbus established the short-lived settlement La Navidad in what is now Haiti. Artifacts from this site provide some of the earliest evidence of Spanish presence in the Americas. This musket ball suggests violent interactions between Spaniards and the local Taíno.


Spanish Musket Ball by Gifford Waters

Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the Bahamas in 1492, making brief contact and leaving little to no trace. His ship sailed on to the island of Hispaniola where his flagship, the Santa María, ran aground on a reef near the site of En Bas Saline. The Spanish, with the help of the local Taíno, salvaged what they could from the ship and Columbus left 39 of his men there with orders to build a tower and a moat, and to search for gold until he came back the following year after returning to Spain.

When he returned nine months later, Columbus found the fort burned and all his men dead. This musket ball is one of the few European artifacts found at the site of En Bas Saline, believed to be the location of that initial settlement of La Navidad. It is likely the earliest musket ball found in the Americas and is a reminder of the violent interactions between the Spaniards and the local Taíno.

Gifford Waters
Collection Manager, Historical Archaeology
Florida Museum of Natural History


Spanish Musket Ball
From En Bas Saline, Haiti
Dates to late 15th century

Exhibit Area

Objects Tell Stories


Spanish Colonial Archaeology

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