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UNF archaeology program uncovering lost Indigenous NE Florida community

Archaeology student digging ground on ancient Indigenous siteThe University of North Florida archaeology program is working on land at the southern end of Big Talbot Island within Big Talbot Island State Park in Florida this semester. The students, led by Dr. Keith Ashley, UNF Archaeology Lab director and assistant professor, are excavating the Armellino site, the location believed to be the Mocama Timucua village of Sarabay.

The goal of the project is to pinpoint the exact location of the Indigenous community of Sarabay, mentioned in both French and Spanish documents dating to the 1560s, and explore its physical layout over the next four years of fieldwork.

So far, the archaeologists have recovered Indigenous pottery that dates to the 1500s and early 1600s along with animal bones and shellfish remains that reveal new information on the diet of the villagers. They have also recovered bone and shell artifacts, six pieces of Spanish pottery and a piece of a burned corn cob that dates to the late 1500s or early 1600s.

This dig is part of the UNF Archaeology Lab’s ongoing Mocama Archaeological Project. This study focuses on the Mocama-speaking Timucua Indians who lived along the Atlantic coast of northern Florida at the time on European arrival in 1562. The Mocama were among the first indigenous populations encountered by European explorers in the 1560s.

Learn more in The Florida Times-Union.