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Archaeology for the Fort

The search for Fort Caroline has lead scholars to posit many different locations and state of being. Simply put, how do you find a fort that has been "lost" for some 440 years? Recent rediscoveries, such as Jamesfort, Charlesfort, Fort St. Louis, and Fort Moses to mention several of the better known forts that were thought to have been lost or completely eroded away--suggest potential for a new look for Fort Caroline.  In order to understand the archaeological signature for Fort Caroline we need a brief background on the history of the fort and what "happen" to the fort's physical structure.

 

The archaeology of Fort Caroline, if the fort exists, will present a complex set of features, structures and artifact distributions.  It is obvious that if Fort Caroline is discovered it will not be like Pompeii. The Fort is not frozen in time--a static moment in history.  Rather, the site has been severely modification over the last 440 years both by cultural and natural formation processes. The purpose of this web page is to discuss the historical events we know to have occurred at the fort within the context of the fort "becoming" an archaeological site. It is to deconstruct Fort Caroline from a wooden and earthen series of structures, walls, and activity areas to subsoil subtleties, corroded metal, and bone fragments. Understanding the Fort's deconstruction provides us with a context for evaluating a potential site as the possible location for the fort.

 

In general, the first part of this section deals with what archaeologists call "cultural formation processes." That is, how cultural behavior affected what survives in the archaeological matrix. Secondly, what survives in the archaeological records often is a matter of natural formation processes, such as erosion, soil deposition, soil acidity, water table, etc. The natural formation process suggests ways to think about how nature may have modified the fort as a set of structures, features, and artifacts.