First Encounters: Spanish Explorations in the Caribbean and the United States, 1492-1570

By Jerald T. Milanich; Susan Milbrath | Go to book overview

Jeffrey M. Mitchem


7 / Artifacts of Exploration: Archaeological Evidence from Florida

Does physical evidence of the Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto expeditions exist? Can we confidently correlate specific artifacts found in Florida with those Spanish armies that marched north from Tampa Bay more than four centuries ago?

The answer to those questions in the 1960s would have been no, but today investigations at Spanish-native American contact sites in the New World have led to the development of typologies of European artifacts from the early sixteenth century. Many of the artifacts are now well dated and known to be associated with the Narváez and de Soto entradas. The presence and distribution of these artifacts-- objects made of glass or metal and some that are ceramic--can help document the expeditions in La Florida. So yes, we do have excellent evidence of these and other Spanish endeavors, and some of the best evidence comes from several archaeological sites in Florida.

The first site is near the coast of northwest Florida close to Apalachee Bay. When the 1528 Narváez expedition arrived in the territory of the Apalachee Indians which surrounds Tallahassee, they first stayed at a village called Apalachen for almost a month. Then they traveled south to another village called Aute where many of the soldiers became ill and where the Spaniards were under additional

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