St. Augustine – First Colony

St. Augustine – First Colony

We’re standing in the center of what was
the 1565 settlement of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his Spanish settlers. If you
can imagine behind me 450 years ago, this was a Spanish village. We’d be looking at
it from the waterfront. The people who came here and lived in the village were
all Spanish. They came directly from Spain and there were 800 who arrived
here. Only 26 of them were women. The rest were soldiers or sailors. We
think that there were some children. In addition to all the people from Spain,
there were people that had been shipwrecked on Florida’s coasts over the
previous 20 years. And one of Menendez’s prime objectives was to help some of
these shipwreck victims, and in fact Menendez’s son himself had been in a ship
that wrecked off the Florida coast and he was hoping to find some word of his
own son–which he didn’t do–but he did pick up nearly 20 people over the course
of his voyages who came to live here at the community, including several people
of African heritage. They built their settlement and houses here in this large
field on the edge of the water. We think that the town was organized around a
central space like a plaza, and this is interesting to us because when Pedro
Menéndez and his settlers arrived there was a Timucua Indian town in this area,
and the Native Americans were also organized around a central plaza. My
first excavation here at the Fountain of Youth Park was in 1976. We thought we
were studying a Timucua village that was in contact with the Spaniards when
they first arrived. The site has been excavated by archaeologists since the 1950s and it
had always been assumed that this was a Native town. We found artifacts that were
Spanish mixed with Native American but we assume that those were evidence of
trade with Spaniards or adopting Spanish traits, and it wasn’t until actually the
1980s when we realized that this may actually have been the original Menendez
settlement. And that was when we found barrel wells. It’s where they got their
water. Those have never been known to be used, even in a historic Native
American community. And that, along with the archaeological evidence, led us to
think about it in a different way and think of it as a Spanish town and so we
started digging in different directions. And at that point we were able to
uncover the buildings and look at the whole town plan. We found features that
had very clear Spanish elements in them– the military buttons, and jewelry items
for Spanish women, the child’s figa–and those things
led us to uncover, bit by bit, the settlement.

13 Replies to “St. Augustine – First Colony”

  1. The Spanish were ruthless as well. They beheaded a couple hundred French Protestant Huguenots on a small island in Matanzas Bay. If I'm not mistaken they sent the heads up the river to the French fort in Jacksonville. The French Never retaliated lol.

  2. nice video! btw the first Thanksgiving happened with the Spanish in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. Which is an unknown interesting fact.

  3. Take note: look at the DNA samples from bones of settlers.. University of Florida has them.. they were not all necessarily from Spain

  4. Pensacola FL was actually first in 1559 then came St Augustine 1565 both the first Spanish colonies settlements in the US waaaaaayy before the English

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