"A genuine tour de force for the integration of anthropology, archaeology and ethnohistory at this first, unequivocal de Soto expedition site."--Russell K. Skowronek, Santa Clara University
"Indispensable. . . . Will be of interest to southeastern archaeologists, historians of Hispanic America, scholars interested in the early exploration of the Americas . . . and laymen in Florida and surrounding states."--Charles Hudson, University of Georgia
Charles Ewen and John Hann chronicle the discovery and excavation of the only known campsite of Hernando de Soto's ten-state odyssey in La Florida during the 16th century. Located in downtown Tallahassee in sight of the state capitol, the site was rescued at the last minute from developers--a story almost as compelling as that of de Soto's expedition.
The book has three parts: historical background, archaeological excavations at the site, and a retranslation of the 16th-century narratives relating to the winter encampment. A prologue and epilogue fit the work into the wider context of the Contact Period.
John Hann has retranslated the narratives of the De Soto expedition in Apalachee Province--with startling results. Small liberties taken with the original translations presented a misleading picture of the Apalachee and their culture. These versions, coupled with evidence recovered from the winter site, give a new view of the impact of Europeans on the native inhabitants of La Florida.
Of particular interest are the discovery, excavation, and preservation of the site. Showing how luck and timing are crucial factors in some important discoveries, Ewen and Hann describe the interaction of archaeologists with private developers, state and city government, and the public and the media. Although it contains information that will be useful to scholars, the book is written in a popular style that makes it accessible to general readers.
Charles R. Ewen, associate professor of anthropology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, is the author of From Spaniard to Creole: The Archaeology of Cultural Formation at Puerto Real, Haiti.
John H. Hann is a research historian at the San Luis Historical Site and a leading scholar on the missions of Spanish Florida. He is the author of Apalachee: The Land Between the Rivers (UPF, 1988), Missions to the Calusa (UPF, 1991), and History of the Timucua Indians and Missions (UPF, 1996).