Today’s the big day!

September 8th, 2015
By Waters,Gifford J

Today was the big day, the 450th Anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine!

While the focus of our research has been on the 1677-1728 church and convento at Mission Nombre de Dios, these excavations were also part of a public archaeology program in association with the 450th. Celebrations started this past Friday and culminated today with a reenactment of the landing of Pedro Menendez de Aviles here on the mission grounds.

There was a tremendous turnout for today’s events, with lots of interested locals and tourists stopping by, as well as a number of dignitaries. Lots of chances to explain our research to hundreds, if not thousands, of interested people today…this is what public archaeology is all about.

A big thank you to Eric Johnson and everyone else at Nombre de Dios, my intrepid field crew and volunteers, our friends at FPAN (especially Sarah Miller who unknowingly ended up being today’s photographer…thanks for the images!) and SAAA, and everyone who stopped to learn more about what we’ve been doing!

Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his men row ashore.

Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his men row ashore.

Reenactment procession at Mission Nombre de Dios.

Reenactment procession at Mission Nombre de Dios.

The field crew and volunteers got front row viewing for the landing!

The field crew and volunteers got front row viewing for the landing!

Dignitaries to the site today included Cardinal O'Malley, Bishops Estévez, Galeone, and Snyder.

Dignitaries to the site today included Cardinal O’Malley, Bishops Estévez, Galeone, and Snyder.

Public archaeology in action. Explaining our finds to some of the many visitors for the 450th.

Public archaeology in action. Explaining our finds to some of the many visitors for the 450th.

Goofing off a bit and playing with my favorite little archaeologist in training!

Goofing off a bit and playing with my favorite little archaeologist in training!

 

Modern disturbances, modern problems

September 1st, 2015
By Waters,Gifford J

We are very fortunate that our site has been so well protected over the years as a result of being on part of the property of the Catholic Church (who are so generous to allow us to excavate here!). However this does not mean that there have been no disturbances to the site. As can be seen in the picture below, there is a pvc pipe running through the coquina foundations of the 1677 church, part of an extensive sprinkler system for the mission grounds.

Excavation unit in the church area. The areas of light colored sand are where excavations took place in 2014. A pvc pipe from the mission grounds sprinkler system can also be seen.

Excavation unit in the church area. The areas of light colored sand are where excavations took place in 2014. A pvc pipe from the mission grounds sprinkler system can also be seen.

As our excavations proceeded, we were (sort of un-) surprised to find even more! The pvc pipes themselves had relatively minor impacts on the integrity of site and church foundations, and we are able to excavate around them for the most part.

Sprinkler pipes galore in the church excavation unit.

Sprinkler pipes galore in the church excavation unit.

Unfortunately pipes sometime burst, which happened today. As can be seen below, the resulting onslaught of water flooded the excavation unit. We were able to shut off the water and cap the pipe, and are now in the process of cleaning the now dried out unit.

Oh no, a pipe burst!

Oh no, a pipe burst!

Triay to ste the tide of the burst pipe.

Trying to stem the tide of the burst pipe.

Flooding as a result of the burst sprinkler pipe.

Flooding as a result of the burst sprinkler pipe.

Keep checking back for more updates on the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Historical Archaeology program’s excavations at Mission Nombre de Dios!

Not rained out…yet!

August 31st, 2015
By Waters,Gifford J

We were worried that we might be rained out from the hurricane. Fortunately it dissipated and we were spared, though there was lots of rain over the weekend and more in the forecast.

A quick update on excavations in the convento unit. Our excavations in this area are focused on the interior of a room identified in 2014. We knew we would have tabby foundations on the southern and western sides of this unit, but we were surprised to find a tabby/mortar wall foundation.

Early stages of excavations of the convento unit. Tabby foundations on the bottom and right, and a newly discovered tabby/mortar linear feature on the left.

Early stages of excavations of the convento unit. Tabby foundations on the bottom and right, and a newly discovered tabby/mortar linear feature on the left.

This unexpected find is quite interesting and makes the room much smaller than we anticipated. Excavations continued in the interior of the room only to reveal another unexpected feature.

Nearing sterile soil in the interior of the convento unit. An unexpected find is the possible sleeper trench in the upper corner.

Nearing sterile soil in the interior of the convento unit. An unexpected find is the possible sleeper trench in the upper corner.

It’s hard to make out in the photo but in the top right corner you can see another linear feature, this one a possible sleeper trench from an earlier structure. Hopefully our continued excavations will reveal more information on this unique and exciting structure in St. Augustine and our earliest and longest lasting Spanish mission.

Anf just to to keep you interested:

Some of our recent finds from the convento excavations.

Some of our recent finds from the convento excavations.

Check back for future updates!

Excavations have begun!

August 25th, 2015
By Waters,Gifford J

Excavations are now underway!

The grid has been reestablished and our excavation units have been set in. We will be investigating the possible friars residence in the convento are as well as getting a look at the interior of the church.

Removing the topsoil and overburden.

Removing the topsoil and overburden.

Removing the topsoil and overburden.

Removing the topsoil and overburden.

The excavation unit seen below will give us a look, at the interior of the church. Previous excavations discovered a central wall bisecting the church. The wall was put in some time after the initial construction of the church. This unit will give us a look at both sides of the wall and the activities that we’re going on inside the church.

Excavation unit in the church area. The areas of light colored sand are where excavations took place in 2014.

Excavation unit in the church area. The areas of light colored sand are where excavations took place in 2014.

And just as a teaser for what’s to come, some of the artifacts we recovered today from the convento!

Artifacts recovered on Day 2 from the convento excavation area.

Artifacts recovered on Day 2 from the convento excavation area.

Public Archaeology at Nombre de Dios

August 18th, 2015
By Waters,Gifford J

In conjunction with the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Historical Archaeology program will resume excavations at Mission Nombre de Dios. Excavations will run August 24-September 11, and we will be investigating the remains of the coquina church ordered built in 1677 and the attached convento.

Check back for periodic updates, information, and news and images of exciting finds!

Images from previous years excavations:

church western wall and tabby  church western wall  DSC00298puebla polychromeIMG_0056