Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State
For Immediate Release
June 01, 2007
Public Invited to Learn about Archaeology at the Martin/ De Soto Site
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that the public is invited to join Department staff on Saturday, June 9, to learn about archaeological excavations at the Martin/de Soto site in Tallahassee. Activities will be offered for all ages and recovered artifacts will be on display between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The excavations are part of an archaeological field school being jointly sponsored by the Bureau of Archaeological Research and Florida State University's Anthropology Department. Participating students are posting an on-line journal to inform the public about the project's progress. The on-line journal can be read at http://msbar.blogspot.com/.
The Martin/de Soto site is thought to be the village of Anhaica Apalache, once home to the Native American group known as the Apalachee. The village was occupied for over 100 years, and according to historic accounts, was comprised of at least 250 dwellings. Between 1539-40, the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his expedition of 600 men spent the winter at this location. The site has proven to be one of the earliest Spanish sites in the United States and the only known campsite associated with the de Soto expedition. Rare artifacts such as chain mail armor, glass beads, Spanish and Portuguese coins as well as Apalachee pottery, projectile points, and gaming pieces have been excavated.
Located southeast of downtown Tallahassee, the Martin/de Soto site was discovered by state archaeologists in 1987. It quickly became the subject of intense salvage excavations. Due to its national significance, the State of Florida acquired 4.84 acres of the site, which is currently managed by the Florida Park Service. Until the current field school, only limited archaeological investigation had occurred on the state-owned parcel.
The principal goal of the field school is to more extensively test the state-owned portion of the site, particularly areas that may be affected by future park modifications. The resulting data will be used to better understand the events surrounding de Soto's five month encounter with the Apalachee in their capital center.
The site is also the location of the home of the former Governor of Florida, John W. Martin (1884-1958). The Governor Martin House was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and today serves as the headquarters for the Bureau of Archaeological Research. It is located at 1001 de Soto Park Drive in Tallahassee. For more information visit www.flheritage.com/archaeology.