Backhoe operator Steve Vanderjagt couldn’t believe his eyes. After uncovering a round, brownish object, he stopped clearing away the muck and debris to investigate further. When Vanderjagt picked up the object, the two empty eye sockets of a skull were staring back at him.
When Juan Ponce de León sailed into the mouth of the Miami River in 1513, he encountered a large Tequesta Indian village.
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés attempted to convert the Tequesta to Christianity, establishing a short lived mission at the village in 1567. Another failed mission was established there in 1743. The Spanish could not persuade the Tequesta to abandon their ancient belief system.
The native people of Florida were almost completely wiped out by unfamiliar diseases brought by the Europeans.
Brevard County is home to an impressive list of important archaeological excavations including a unique prehistoric pond cemetery, numerous Indian mounds, paleontological sites, colonial era shipwrecks, and pioneer homesteads.
Since 1953, members of the Indian River Anthropological Society have been participating in the discovery, excavation, and recording of archaeological sites in Brevard County.
Jerald T. Milanich is an American anthropologist and archaeologist, specializing in Native American culture in Florida. He is Curator Emeritus of Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville; Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida; and Adjunct Professor, Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. Milanich holds a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Florida.
About 1,000 years ago, agricultural communities were established in what would become the Southeastern and Midwestern United States, and what is called the Mississippian culture flourished.
Keith Ashley is an archaeologist and research coordinator at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Ashley’s research is demonstrating a link between Native Floridians and the thriving Mississippian culture.
Historical Archaeologist Kathleen Deagan led a series of excavations that identified the original encampment of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés from 1565.
From that encampment, the city of St. Augustine was established as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in what is now the United States.
“We began that project in the 1970s, thinking we were going to be studying an Indian village,” says Deagan, Distinguished Research Curator and Professor Emerita from the University of Florida.
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