For more than 500 years before the arrival of Menéndez, the Timucua people of the St. Augustine area had been living in much the same way as they were in 1565.
They were organized as chiefdoms (societies comprised of several allied communities with a hereditary central political authority), and were matrilineal (they traced their descent and inheritance through the female line).
They fished, hunted, and cultivated corn, beans and squash.
The principal chief of the St. Augustine region in 1565 was Seloy, and his town has been located archaeologically on the grounds of what is today the Fountain of Youth Park, about 1 mile north of the Castillo de San Marcos.
It was quite large, covering an area of more than 12 acres. Timucuan houses were usually circular and were made of palm thatching, and Timucuan artisans made and used a wide variety of implements and ornaments in pottery, bone, shell, stone and wood.
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The following resources include only a few of the many works that have been written on these topics. We have chosen those you see here because they are relatively recent (or have continued as enduring classics), they are published in easily accessible formats, and they are generally non-technical in their presentation. These sources will also lead you to many more popular and scholarly publications on these topics.
Most of these resources can be found through your public library. Other useful sites for locating many of these readings include the University Press of Florida and the St. Augustine Historical Society. For a complete list of archaeological sources, visit the Florida Museum Historical Archaeology site.
Hann, John. 1996 A history of the Timucua Indians and Missions. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Notes: A meticulous documentary study of the Timucua people in Spanish missions during the colonial period.
Milanich, Jerald T. 1996 The Timucua. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Press.
Notes: The most comprehensive ethnohistorical and archaeological study of Florida’s Timucua peoples, presented in an engaging and accessible style.
Milanich, Jerald T. 1996 Original inhabitants. in The new history of Florida. edited by M. Gannon. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. pp. 1-15.
Notes: A useful summary of information about Florida’s original people at the time of European contact.
Worth, John. 1998 The Timucua chiefdoms of Spanish Florida (2 Volumes). Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Notes: This very detailed documentary and archaeologically-based study also concentrates on the Timucua during the mission period.
Lorant, Stefan. 1946 The New World. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce., and in Bennett, Charles 1968: The Settlement of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Notes: A complete set of Jacques Le Moyne’s engravings of Timucua life can be found in: