Presidio Santa María de Galve


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FortExcMapLegend

Fort Excavations

The excavation strategy for Ft. San Carlos de Austria centered on ground-truthing historic maps. Archaeologists focused on several elements of the fort including the exterior fort walls and the barracks, warehouses, hospital and church located inside the fort. The excavation units outlined on the map show excavations of these individual elements. Field seasons were conducted in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998.

FortExcMap
1995

1995 Field Season

In 1995, the horizontal and vertical boundaries of the site were established through excavation and analysis of hundreds of shovel test units (small red squares on map below). The basic question that was addressed was the nature of the site as a physical and archaeological entity. In addition, architectural and refuse disposal activity areas were identified. An unexpected discovery from the first research period was the abundant Indian pottery fragments. This indicated that Indians made up a sizeable part of the community. The pottery, however, revealed that the Indians were from outside the area and migrated here to be allied with or fight against the Spaniards at this settlement. The 1995 excavations also revealed that it is almost impossible to identify the three year French presence (1719-1722) from the artifacts alone.

1996TrenchB1
Trench B1

1996 Field Season

In 1996, the goals in Area B included finding the northern and western walls of the fort. UWF historical archaeology graduate students Jim Wilson and David Pugh tested former historical archaeology student Ashley Chapman's theory of the location of the presidio fort, San Carlos de Austria. Mr. Chapman's findings were based on the 1995 field school excavations, which showed high concentrations of 1st Spanish artifacts in an area where the fort was theorized to exist. 1996 excavations were based on the theory that a 25 foot wall would prove to be an abrupt barrier between artifact rich deposits on interior of the fort and artifact scarce strata on the exterior of the fort. Based on this model, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Pugh conducted two trench excavations where the west and the north walls of the fort were hypothesized to be. One trench was placed East/West (Trench B1) and another trench was placed North/South (Trench B2).

1996TB1
Feature 216 in Trench B1 prior to excavation

In early July, Mr. Wilson and his Trench B1 team located the remains of a filled-in trench six feet wide and four and a half feet deep, along with the remains of charred posts in the center. The first 5x3 foot unit in the trench (1180N 2050E) was placed in the most likely area of the fort interior. The features and intact deposits in the first unit supported the proposed placement of the fort. Then two 5x3 foot test units were opened 20 feet and 30 feet away from 1180N and 2050E (the Northeast coordinates of the original test unit of the trench). All units west of 1180N 2025E, 30 feet away from the original test unit, yielded no intact deposits. However, the unit opened 20 feet west of the original unit, 1180N 2035E, yielded a deep feature (feature #216) that resembled a wall trench, and artifacts recovered from this unit were exclusively First Spanish. This feature extended to the east and north. Several clues led UWF archaeologists to believe that this linear phenomenon represents the remains of the distinct barrier (wall) between the activity areas inside Fort San Carlos de Austria and the culturally sterile exterior. The last good expression of the First Spanish period midden was encountered adjacent to feature #216 to the east (unit 1180N 2035E). Disregarding feature #216, the last first Spanish feature was discovered to the east (also in unit 1180N 2035E). In fact, the only other feature found within the trench was a British pit encountered some 30 feet to the west (a time difference of roughly 60 years between the two periods). Feature #216 was dug approximately three and a half feet below the First Spanish land surface, which is an adequate depth to support a massive wooden wall. The fort walls were said to be about 20 feet high.

1996TB1Part
Feature 216 in Trench B1 during excavation. The wall feature is visible extending north from the wall of the original unit.

To check the linearity of the phenomenon, a 5x5 foot test unit was excavated at 1185N 2032E adjacent to the feature, again disregarding the upper disturbed stratum one and excavating down to stratum three. Again, UWF archaeologists encountered the distinctive upper dense lens that had been found in trench unit 1180N 2035E. Excavation of feature #216 proved that the feature was indeed linear and deep, indicating the remains of a fort wall. Based on the context of the artifacts recovered, the feature was most likely deposited during the First Spanish period of occupation. To further support the theory that feature #216 was indeed the fort wall, a test unit was excavated 40 feet to the north of test unit 1225N 2032E, where the same dark linear stain was expected to be found. A linear feature was found with width and depth comparable to test unit 1225N 2032E. In order to be conservative, the feature was given a different number (#255), but it was probably a northern extension of feature #216. If these features represent the wall of Fort San Carlos, the hypothesized fort wall was only off by 18 inches. Excavation of the two units was suspended until such time when more detailed questions could facilitate further research.

1996TrenchB2
Trench B2

Excavations in 1996 in Trench B2 yielded results similar to those of Trench B1. Evidence of a filled-in trench or wall feature appeared less than two feet from the hypothesized fort wall location. The wall feature was first detected in stratum three (probable living surface of the First Spanish period) of test unit 1295N 2150E. It was approximately three feet in width and five feet deep. On top of the wall feature was a trash pit (feature #213) with recovery consistent with First Spanish refuse including ceramics, faunal and architectural remains. The trash pit was basin-shaped and destroyed any evidence of the midden in the unit directly north (1300N 2150E). Still unanswered was whether or not the wall was standing when the trash was deposited both inside and outside the fort wall or if the wall was constructed after the trash was deposited. The fort wall remains were within two feet of Chapman's prediction.

1996TB2Exc

Feature 250 in Trench B2 after excavation. The feature is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom where the posts were placed in the ground. The dark layer with a shell protruding from the wall is a Second Spanish trash pit located on top of the fort wall remains.

1996TrenchA1
Block A1 and Trench A1

Area A, located south of Area B, yielded evidence of a filled-in trench or wall feature less than two feet from the hypothesized fort wall location. Area A proved to be the most artifact-rich area of the site thus far. The excavation units consisted of a 15x20 foot block (Block A1) and a 30x5 foot trench (Trench A1). Stratigraphy revealed that the last hundred years of occupation lay on top of two to three feet of a sand fill zone containing late colonial and early American refuse pits filled with ceramics, Bonifay bricks and faunal remains. The two to three foot fill zone protected the First Spanish midden from later occupations, allowing for the high degree of intact midden and features uncovered in these excavation units. Many of the artifacts found here were piece plotted, particularly fasteners, flat glass fragments, faience vessels and porcelain sherds.

1996TA1Exc

Excavations in Block A1 produced some of the site's most intact First Spanish assemblage. Area A produced features such as posts, a smudge pit, refuse pits, hearth area and wall trenches. The hearth uncovered near the officers' barracks was brick-lined, and the smudge pit was located just to the south of the hearth.

1997NWBast
Excavated Northwest Bastion, cannons on left. The wall feature is best seen along the north side of the bastion. The white dots in the photograph are paper plates set 25 feet apart for scale. In order to photograph the northwest bastion in its entirety, archaeologists used a bucket truck or "cherry picker" to take aerial shots.

1997 Field Season

Because 1996 excavations in Trenches B1 and B2 led to the discovery of a possible fort wall, four trenches were placed "in line" with the linear feature encountered in both 1996 Area B trenches. Historical maps also show this to be the area where the northwest bastion of the fort was located. Under the direction of Mike Renacker, Trenches B3, B4, B5 and B6 were placed in several locations where the fort wall would intersect with the units. All four trenches revealed linear features similar to those found in Trenches B1 and B2. To further confirm that the fort walls had been found, Trenches B7 and B8 were added to test whether the walls turned at the corners of the northwest bastion. Upon finding the turns, Dr. Bense and the fort team decided follow the linear features until the point of the bastion was located. When the point was located, the entire northwest bastion was uncovered, displaying its outline. This was the largest area of the fort exposed during excavations. Its exposure enabled archaeologists to more precisely place historic maps of the fort and its associated buildings on the modern landscape and place units in more strategic locations. In addition, archaeologists and historians were able to learn more about the construction of the fort.



Cannon

Along with uncovering the northwest bastion, archaeologists also discovered three cannons in a pit just inside the bastion. Jim Wilson, the project director, tripped over one of the cannons while preparing for Hurricane Danny. The cannons were lifted from the site and delivered to UWF for conservation. After being carefully photographed, measured and drawn, the cannons were placed in a vat to undergo a treatment called electrolytic reduction (ER). The chemical bath treats corrosion and removes all salts. After cleaning, the cannons were placed on public display to commemorate Pensacola's Tricentennial in November of 1998. Two of the cannons were mounted on the walls of the reconstructed northwest bastion at the site and one is on exhibit at the Archaeology Institute.

Name of GunGun LengthEst. CaliberEst. Weight of BallEst. Weight of Gun
#1 Demiculverin 9'1 1/2" 4 inches 9-pounder 2,500-2,900
#2 Demiculverin 8'6" 4 inches 9-pounder 2,600-3,000
#3 Saker or  
Demiculverin
7'11" 3.65 to 4 inches 6-pounder or 9-pounder 2,000-2,400

 

Crucifix
Crucifix

1998 Field Season

With the remains of the fort wall verified in the 1996 and 1997 field seasons, research questions shifted focus to the internal structures of the fort. Trench B9 was placed where the 1713 map shows barracks and the church located inside the fort. Trench B10 was placed where the hospital and additional barracks are located on the 1713 map. Trench A2 was placed over barracks, a warehouse and a cistern. Trenches C1 and C2 were dug with a backhoe to look for the location of the northeast bastion wall. Combining known points of the northeast and northwest bastions, archaeologists were able to determine which construction episode the wall features most closely matched.

1998TB9Church
Trench B9 after excavation

Church excavations revealed burial practices at Ft. San Carlos de Austria. Archaeologists uncovered nearly 26 burials, only one of which was articulated, or still in its original position. Death was a constant at this isolated settlement and burial space was limited. To deal with the lack of space, the Spanish were forced to bury their dead in the same location as others who had been buried earlier, causing the disturbance of many of the burials. Along with the human remains, archaeologists uncovered burial artifacts such as a crucifix and "man-in-the-moon" beads, which have only been found at French Colonial Mobile and its seaport of Dauphine Island.

MIMBead
"Man-in-the-moon" beads

Trench B10 was one of the largest excavation units, measuring 12x75 feet. Archaeologists determined that the light area in the northeast corner of the trench represented a building shadow or outline. A wooden floor probably caused the building shadow by preventing people from throwing or otherwise dropping materials on the ground surface, which would have created a stain in the soil, as seen in the area directly south of the building shadow. The posts in a row indicated that the western portion of the building was enclosed. The several large posts that had no wall trench between them indicated "open-sided" building construction in the eastern portion of the building. Because the building had two types of construction techniques, it is possible that it was a multi-purpose building used as both a hospital and a warehouse. The barracks were located along the western wall of the trench. This area had high artifact density, indicating people living in close quarters. Wine bottle fragments including a base and neck, pipe bowls, imported and Indian ceramics, cooking utensils, candle snips, clothing accessories and iron fasteners were found in the barracks area.

1998TB10
Trench B10 after excavation. The P's represent excavated postholes and the PR's label posts in a row.

Trench B10 was one of the largest excavation units, measuring 12x75 feet. Archaeologists determined that the light area in the northeast corner of the trench represented a building shadow or outline. A wooden floor probably caused the building shadow by preventing people from throwing or otherwise dropping materials on the ground surface, which would have created a stain in the soil, as seen in the area directly south of the building shadow. The posts in a row indicated that the western portion of the building was enclosed. The several large posts that had no wall trench between them indicated "open-sided" building construction in the eastern portion of the building. Because the building had two types of construction techniques, it is possible that it was a multi-purpose building used as both a hospital and a warehouse. The barracks were located along the western wall of the trench. This area had high artifact density, indicating people living in close quarters. Wine bottle fragments including a base and neck, pipe bowls, imported and Indian ceramics, cooking utensils, candle snips, clothing accessories and iron fasteners were found in the barracks area.

 

1998TA2Maj
"Majolica" feature 559 in Trench A2

Excavations in Trench A2, the warehouse area, yielded two unique features that told archaeologists about some of the supplies the Spanish had at Presidio Santa Maria de Galve. The "majolica" feature was a large pit full of a wide variety of majolica ceramic types. Majolica is found in sites throughout Spain's former colonial possessions. The majority of majolica recovered at the site was manufactured in Mexico and included types commonly found at Spanish sites in East Florida, including St. Augustine and Mission San Luis near Tallahassee. An unidentified majolica type was also excavated from this feature, but was later classified as Pensacola Striped. The "bean" feature was loaded with charred peas, beans and lentils, which indicated the types of foods imported to the site, as well as the numerous fires that ravaged the area.

PensacolaStriped
‌Pensacola Striped Majolica
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