The project, directed by Dr. Kathleen Deagan, renowned Florida archaeologist from the University of Florida, is a search for the foundation of the first wooden fort built by the Spanish and the first Catholic mission constructed on the site.
However, it is that same plot that University of Florida Archaeologist Kathy Deagan and her team use small trowels to uncover the spot where Spain's Pedro Menendez de Aviles stepped ashore and established what would become
has spent a significant chunk of her career on this tract of land in an attempt to fill in missing pieces of century-old puzzles about Menendez and his first camp.
team are building on work archaeologists were doing in the 1940s.
Deagan is the research curator at the University of Florida Natural History Museum and a lead member of the Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, a joint effort by UF and Flagler College.
has been working on the Fountain of Youth site on and off since 1976, most of those years trying to confirm the spot was actually Menendez's camp.
team of University of Florida
and Flagler College students now search for one of those puzzle pieces that has eluded archaeologists for decades-the actual location of Menendez's first fort.
Finding it would solve the mystery that has surrounded the structure for years, and help put in perspective the first Spanish settlement in St. Augustine.
Menendez set up the first successful European colony in North America in September of 1565, 50 years before the English landed at Jamestown.
is conducting digs on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth and the adjacent Mission of Nombre de Dios on San Marco Avenue.
With 800 people, including 26 women, he
camped near the village of Timucuan Indian Chief Seloy.
is most interested in the first landing site and that early fort.
There is a major problem: while there are theories about what these council houses might have looked like-anything from oval to rectangular-no archaeological dig has ever managed to uncover one.
team is focused on two sites: one at the Fountain of Youth and the second at the mission, where a 16th-century moat was found.
At the Fountain of Youth, her
team has uncovered large tree-trunk-sized posts in the ground, which she
believes might form the wall of a large rectangular building.
While this is an exciting find, there is still much work to be done.
Archaeology can be a long road of discovery, and researchers often spend years uncovering remnants of the past, and even longer trying to piece them together.
For example, it took years to conclusively identify the afore-mentioned plot of land as Menendez's first camp site.
The discovery of a barrel well, a lime kiln, and outlines of buildings helped archaeologists and researchers reach that point.
Actually, the archaeological site had been discovered in the 1950s was thought to be merely an Indian village until 1986 when Deagan
and others began finding European objects there.