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Distribution of Contact and Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province

The Florida Anthropologist
Research Coordinator, Sociology & Anthropology, University of North Florida, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224-2659
Vol. 67(4) December 2014
Keith Ashley
The rst documented encounter between the Mocama-
speaking Timucua and Europeans occurred on May 1, 1562
when the French Huguenot Jean Ribault stepped out of the
shallow estuarine waters of Atlantic coastal Florida to greet
a large party of native men, women, and children. Within a
century and a half, indigenous populations would be erased
from the landscape of extreme northeastern Florida and
southeastern Georgia. At present, the popular image of the
Mocama1 derives more from European parchment than Florida
archaeology. But times are changing and the archaeological
correlates of the sixteenth and seventeenth century Mocama
are coming into better focus (Ashley 2009, 2013). While
limited excavations have taken place at the Mocama missions
of San Juan del Puerto and San Pedro de Mocama (e.g., Ashley
and Gorman 2011; Dickinson and Wayne 1984; Gorman 2008;
Jones 1967; Milanich 1971; Rock 2006; Russo et al. 1993),
little has been reported on Contact and Mission-era sites
distributed throughout the broader Mocama province, despite
documentary references to the social geography of the region.
My intent here is to provide background on Contact and early
Mission period settlement structure among the Mocama and
shed light on the underreported distribution of archaeological
sites throughout the Atlantic coastal region of extreme
northern Florida and southern Georgia. I bring this important
information to light to show that Mocama archaeology has the
potential to address a number of broader issues.
Brief Comment on Contact Period Archaeology
It has been more than 20 years since the quincentenary
celebration of Columbus’s momentous voyage that brought
inhabitants of the old world in contact with a new one. The
past two decades have witnessed a swell of archaeological
and historical research dealing with the nature and long-
term consequences of rst encounters between Europeans
and historically-named indigenous populations (e.g., Deagan
1998; Lightfoot 1995, 2005; McEwan 2001; Milanich 1996;
Scheiber and Mitchell 2010; Silliman 2005; Worth 1998a,
1998b). As a result, we currently have a well-stocked collection
of case studies that show now more than ever that all contact
situations are complex and specically conditioned by social
and historical processes unique to those involved. These local
circumstances of culture contact and colonial entanglement
form the foundation for the collective and ongoing endeavor
to decolonize the archaeology of European contact and
Scholarly attention is shifting away from unidirectional
models of culture contact and colonial period culture change that
involved dominant donors (Europeans) and passive recipients
(Natives) in which archaeology merely serves as a measure
of Native assimilation (see Cusick 1998; Worth 2006). These
are being replaced by perspectives that privilege the internal
social process of how individual Native groups reacted to and
actively altered their traditions and identities as much as they
do the varying strategies and goals of the colonizer throughout
North America (see various articles in Scheiber and Mitchell
2010). Native responses to European expansionist policies and
imperialist strategies across the Americas were not uniform and
predictable. To the contrary, the varied and dynamic reactions
to colonization and missionization were inextricably linked to
diverse precolumbian cultural traditions and histories.
The mission system provided the backdrop for the
colonial entanglement between Florida Indians and the
Spanish during the late sixteenth through early eighteenth
centuries. Mission research in Florida has a long history dating
back to the interdisciplinary work of Mark Boyd, Hale Smith,
and John Grifn (1951), but the study really came into its own
in the years leading up to the Columbus Quincentennial (e.g.,
see various chapters in McEwan 1993; Thomas 1990). Over
the past three decades excellent archival and archaeological
studies of La Florida missions have taken place and more
anthropological questions have been asked about mission
communities and their occupants (e.g., Deagan and Thomas
2013; Hann 1996; McEwan 2001; Milanich 1999; Saunders
2000a; Worth 1998a, 1998b). In addition, bioarchaeological,
faunal, and paleoethnobotanical studies have examined issues
of diet, health and status (e.g., Larsen et al. 2001; Reitz et al.
2010; Ruhl 2003; Stojanowski 2005, 2013), and several recent
edited volumes have placed the mission system in a broader
comparative pan-American perspective (e.g., Johnson and
Melville 2013; Panich and Schneider 2014).
To understand the intersections of local and global
histories and how these colonial encounters played out across
time and space requires us to engage in long-term historical
studies that span the gulf between prehistory and history
(Lightfoot 1995; Scheiber and Mitchell 2010; Silliman 2005;
Worth 2006). As Kent Lightfoot (1995:207) points out, “[w]
ithout a solid grounding in prehistory, it may be impossible
to determine the timing, magnitude, and sources of changes
involved [in instances of European contact], and to evaluate
whether signicant cultural transformations were really taking
place.” Moreover, emphasis must be placed on the real lived
The Florida Anthropologist
160 2014 67(4)
experiences of those involved, both colonized and colonizers.
My research is guided by this emphasis on long-term historical
Contact-era Mocama
When the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto moved
his entrada north through the middle of northern peninsular
Florida in 1539, he encountered Timucua speakers. When
the Frenchman Jean Ribault waded ashore along the Atlantic
coast near Jacksonville in 1562, he too met with Timucua-
speakers. When Pedro Menendez dropped anchor and
stepped ashore in what is today St. Augustine, he also was
greeted by Timucua speakers. Europeans would soon nd
out that Timucua-speakers were spread across a vast portion
of northern peninsular Florida and southern Georgia, an area
of approximately 19,000 square miles (Milanich 2004:219).
Across this diverse landscape of coastal estuaries, inland rivers,
lakes, swamps, atwoods, and upland forests, the Timucua
were organized into village communities. The various groups
of Timucua speakers were not united or formally integrated
as a single polity. Instead they were divided regionally into
small-scale chiefdoms enmeshed in intertribal relations as
allies and enemies (Hann 1996; Milanich 1996; Worth 1998a).
The word Timucua is used by modern scholars as a
blanket term for all Contact-era Native groups of northern
peninsular Florida and southern Georgia who shared a common
language known through colonial records as Timucua. Based
on the early seventeenth-century writings of Friar Francisco
Pareja, who was stationed at the Mocama mission of San
Juan del Puerto near present-day Jacksonville, we learn that
nine mutually intelligible dialects of Timucua were spoken
(Milanich and Sturtevant 1972:1-2). Subsequent research
suggests that at least 11 Timucuan dialects existed (Granberry
1993:6-7; Hann 1996:4). Mocama, which translates to “the
sea or ocean” (Granberry 1993:148), was the maritime dialect
spoken by the allied late sixteenth century chiefdoms of
Saturiwa and Tacatacuru along the northeastern Florida and
southeastern Georgia coasts, respectively. It differed from the
saltwater (agua salada) dialect spoken by Seloy and other
coastal Timucua in the St. Augustine area and farther south.
The maritime dialect was the standard form utilized by Fray
Pareja in all of his writings (Hann 1996:6).
The Mocama were village dwellers. The popular image
of a Timucua village comes to us courtesy of the Flemish
engraver Theodor de Bry, who in 1591 published an illustrated
book purportedly based on the Jacque LeMoyne watercolors.
LeMoyne was the ofcial cartographer and painter of the
French La Caroline Colony among the Mocama in 1564-65.
In the de Bry engraving entitled “A Fortied Village” Timucua
(and specically Mocama) towns are depicted as consisting of
closely-packed houses encircled by a timber stockade. Other
than the caption associated with this artwork, no other mention
of a protective wall or palisade surrounding Timucua villages
is found in any existing colonial document (Hann 1996:88).
It is signicant to note that none of the original LeMoyne
sketches exists today2. Moreover, the authenticity of the de
Bry engravings as images of Timucua life has been questioned
in recent years, most importantly based on their remarkable
similarity to the Hans Staden and Jean de Leary sketches of the
sixteenth-century Tupinamba of Brazil (Feest 1988; Milanich
2005; Sturtevant 1992). As available archaeological evidence
shows (see below), the Mocama appear to have lived in more
dispersed settlements without any form of fortication.
Other late sixteenth century colonial documents reference
Timucuan villages of varying sizes, but none mention a
protective wall or palisade around the houses (Hann 1996:88).
According to the testimony of a French mutineer of the 1564-
65 La Caroline colony along the St. Johns River, “there are
three or four Indian places, which were settled of 7, 8, 10,
and 12 houses, covered with palm, at a half-league, and two
or three leagues” from the fort (AGI 1565 in Lyon 1982). In
1565, a Spanish chronicler states that the village of Saturiwa
at the river mouth had “twenty-ve large dwellings, in each
of which live eight or nine Indian men with their women and
children, for all kin dwell together” (Barrientos 1965).
The best description of a contact (1562) domestic residence
is provided by Jean Ribault (1964:84) who describes one he
encountered 3 leagues up the St. Marys River as “fyttely made
and close of woode, sett upright and covered with reed, the
most parte of them after the fashion of a pavilion.” Other early
accounts seem to corroborate the presence of circular houses
with thatched roofs (Bennett 1968; LeChallaux in Swanton
1922:352), although archaeological evidence at the suspected
Mocama village of Sarabay suggests that some buildings in
the early seventeenth century might have been constructed
with wall trenches (as discussed later).
The chief’s residence or public building was described by
Ribault (1964:84) as “long and broode [broad], with settelles
round abowte made of reedes, tremly couched together, which
serve them bothe for beddes and seates; they be of hight two
fote from the ground, sett upon great round pillers paynted
with redd, yellowe and blewe, well and [trimly] pullished.”
However, this description is at odds with those of other
council houses, which are noted as circular. The French
Huguenot Laudonniere reported in 1564 that upon the arrival
of his men at an unnamed village near Fort Caroline they were
taken to the chiefs dwelling “from which about fty Indians
emerged” to greet them (Bennett 1975:63; Lawson 1992:54),
implying a building of some size. The “big public building”
or council house appears to have been the center of political
decision making and daily discourse as they assembled there
every morning, according to Laudonniere (Bennett 1975:14;
Lawson 1992:10).
Other features of Mocama communities that can be
culled from the ethnohistorical literature include a granary
or storehouses, a ball pole and plaza area, and other vaguely
described or alluded to buildings. Chiefs appear to have been
afforded burial in sand mounds, although there is no mention
of where other villagers may have been interred. Charnel
facilities for the processing of the dead appear to have existed,
and, in some parts of the Timucua territory, persisted into the
Mission period (Hann 1996:106; Milanich 1996:128-129). It
is unclear where a burial mound or charnel building may have
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 161
been located in relationship to the village, but recent research
suggests that certain individuals along with elaborate grave
goods including European items may have been interred in
pre-existing (Woodland) burial mounds (Rolland and Ashley
2011). Perhaps this was a symbolic act on the part of chiefs and
elites to appropriate the past and cement their ties to ancestors
and the other world, while also reinforcing their claims to the
land and its resources.
Although the Mocama practiced low residential mobility
(i.e., year-round site occupations), villagers temporarily left
their residential hubs at certain times of the year to procure
nearby resources as they became seasonally available or
abundant. Thus, their annual subsistence cycle involved
a exible and mixed subsistence strategy of foraging and
farming that likely varied depending on
yearly local climatic conditions.
Missionization among the Mocama:
Doctrinas and Visitas
The mission system was a frontier
enterprise established in La Florida to
incorporate the indigenous population
into Spain’s growing imperial empire
through the formation of mission villages,
where they would be taught the Catholic
religion and introduced to aspects of
Hispanic culture under the guidance of
missionaries and the protection of the
colonial government (Gannon 1965;
McEwan 2001; Milanich 1999, 2004). But
Spanish motives included much more than
religious conversion, there were major
economic objectives as well. The mission
system further provided the La Florida
colony with agricultural produce and
laborers for construction and maintenance
projects. Mission friars permitted certain
Native cultural practices provided they
were not contrary to Christian tenets,
rendering life beneath the mission bell
a unique combination of indigenous
and Spanish elements adapted to local
circumstances (Milanich 1999:130-156,
Franciscan friars, who rst arrived
in La Florida in 1573, began to have
success in religious conversion among
the Mocama.3 In 1587 twelve new
missionaries arrived in St. Augustine
and promptly were dispatched to build
missions in several widely scattered
Native villages along the Atlantic coast,
including San Juan del Puerto on Fort
George Island (Florida) and San Pedro de
Mocama (Cumberland Island, Georgia)
within the Mocama Province4 (Gannon
1965:38; Geiger 1937:54-55). The imposition of missions in
these Mocama villages without incident intimates that indeed
the once combative Mocama had become more tolerant of the
Spaniards. Unfortunately, colonial documents relating to this
critical period (1568-1587) in Mocama history are lacking
at this time. Figure 1 depicts the Mocama region along with
missions and barrier islands mentioned in this article.
As part of the colonization process, each Spanish
mission embedded itself within the local native landscape,
which typically consisted of a capital and allied villages.
A mission was not established in a strict sense, but rather
a small compound was emplaced within the center of an
existing Native village with a large resident population, often
a precolumbian chiefdom’s main village (Worth 1998a:42).
Figure 1. Mocama Province, including mission locations.
The Florida Anthropologist
162 2014 67(4)
Mocama settlements on Cumberland Island were threatened
by rebels whose attack was thwarted by the “warlike” nature
of the island’s inhabitants as well as the sight of a Spanish ship
(Francis and Kole 2011:73-80; Geiger 1937:94). The Mocama
on the island were temporarily relocated to San Juan del Puerto
and points farther south for protection but apparently returned
the next spring to farm. A new church was constructed at San
Pedro by 1603 and its size was said to rival that of the church
in St. Augustine; it was also reported that burials were placed
beneath the church oor (Hann 1996:162). Oré specically
mentions San Pedro along with a second mission named
“Puturiba on the northern end of the island where Father
Chozas was stationed” (Geiger 1937:98; see Francis and
Kole 2011:77-78). The names of two additional settlements
(Ayacamale, Bejessi) are briey referenced in accounts of
this era—and it is likely that others existed on the island—but
none is mentioned in later documents (Hann 1996:160).
The most insightful, yet incomplete, references on the
social geography of the Mocama province are the 1602 letters
of Frays Francisco Pareja and Baltasar Lopez, who reported
on the state of affairs at San Juan and San Pedro, respectively.
At San Pedro, Lopez (1602) indicated that the “village and
island of San Pedro” included 300 Christian Indians, with
an additional 384 individuals found among seven associated
villages. Conspicuously absent from his letter is any mention
of the mission or settlement of Puturiba. With respect to
visitas, he reported that the villages of Santa María de la Sena
(112 Christians) and Santo Domingo (180 Christians) both
had churches and were located on the island of Napoyca,
interpreted today as Amelia Island (Deagan 1978:102; Hann
1990:452; Milanich 1999:115). Other visitas appear to have
been located on the mainland across from Cumberland and
Amelia islands, as Lopez (1602) noted:
San Antonio with its church has thirty Christians and
along side of it is Chica Faya la Madalena, which has forty
Christians and some recent arrivals…In the village of Pitano
ten Christians and other recent arrivals…In Utichiene three
Christians and the rest from this village desire to become
so. In Ycapalano two houses with nine Christians. And all
these little hamlets are a league and half a league from the
one where there is a church and all these settlements that
are mentioned here assemble at the principal church of San
Pedro for Easter and Holy Week and the principal feasts to
hear mass and sermons…
Rather than providing settlement-specic census
information, Pareja (1602) merely stated that San Juan and
its nine satellite villages had a population of 500 Christian
Indians. He also gave the general distance each visita was
from the doctrina of San Juan, indicating that the closest was
Sarabay at one-quarter league and the farthest was Moloa at
ve leagues (Table 1). From these visitas, the cacica of San
Mateo and the caciques of Vera Cruz, San Pablo, and Chiricaca
were among the 488 people conrmed at San Juan by the
bishop of Cuba in 1606 (Hann 1996:164). A mandador (iniha
or second in command) from Moloa was apparently greeted
In mission period parlance, a village with a mission church
and resident friar was deemed a doctrina (Geiger 1937:28).
Although particular layouts varied throughout La Florida, the
religious compound at doctrinas included a Spanish-fashioned
church, a convento where the mission’s sole friar lived, and
possibly a detached kitchen (cocina) and small garden plot,
all of which was surrounded by a larger Native community
marked by the presence of native-style houses and a large
round council house (Gannon 1965:39; Saunders 1990;
Worth 1998a:42). A cross also was raised in nearby villages
termed visitas, and a church or open chapel might be built to
accommodate the mission friar who visited the settlement as
part of his ministering circuit (see Ashley 2013 for a more
thorough discussion on Mocama visitas).
Unfortunately, as was the case with contact settlements,
Spanish documents are not forthcoming on the layout of early
mission villages in the Mocama province. The best description
presently available on Native settlements of the Atlantic
coastal is a brief, general depiction penned in 1602 by Alonso
de las Alas (in Worth 1998a:85) who states:
…[Atlantic coastal communities have] very few
inhabitants, the largest of them up to thirty or forty houses,
and some more and others less, with a council house where
they gather to drink a drink they call caçina and tobacco,
and the caciques command them and order the rest in what
they have to do, because they have their houses in the
woods, and next to them their elds of corn and beans and
squash that they sow and reap, and the hunting of deer and
rabbits that they do…
Because this description indicates farming communities
we can assume he is referring to either the Mocama or Guale
Indians, although a generalization of both is likely. Taken as
a rough guide this passage suggests that early seventeenth-
century Mocama mission visita communities maintained a
dispersed settlement arrangement tied to a council house and
Social Geography of the Mocama Mission Province
Sustained missionization efforts among the Mocama
began with the founding of the missions of San Juan del Puerto
and San Pedro de Mocama in 1587. San Juan del Puerto was
placed among the Saturiwa at or near the village of Alimacani
on Fort George Island, Florida, and the mission was described
as ornate with a bell tower (Geiger 1937:43; Hann 1996:53).
Perhaps a reason for establishing San Juan at the village of
Alimacani rather than Saturiwa was that more Mocama
villages (and people) were located on the north side of the St.
Johns River, making ministering easier for a lone friar. San
Pedro de Mocama was built to the north, at the community of
Tacatacuru on southern Cumberland Island, Georgia (Gannon
1965:38; Geiger 1937:55). Little information is available on
the rst decade of mission life in these villages.
A 1616 account by Fray Luis Geronimo Oré indicates
that, during the outbreak of the 1597 Guale Rebellion,
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 163
by the governor during his visitation in 1604. Combining the
1602 census information it appears that approximately 1100
Christianized Mocama were ministered to by the two friars.
Table 1 provides a listing of the visitas mentioned in the
1602 friars’ letters along with information available in soldiers’
testimonies taken in the same year. Discrepancies between the
two lists might reect different perspectives between friars
and soldiers on jurisdictional afliation (Hann 1996:158-159;
Worth 1998a:58). According to the military men, settlements
between San Pedro and the St. Johns River, including the
Mission San Juan, were considered part of the San Pedro
district, whereas those south of the St. Johns River such as San
Mateo and San Pablo were placed under the jurisdiction of
Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine5. The soldiers’ interpretation
might be more in line with how Spanish governmental ofcials
viewed jurisdictional boundaries. Alternatively, this may
merely reect a lack of understanding of settlement afliation
on the soldiers’ part.
A few other missions apparently existed in the Mocama
province, although direct documentary references for some
are terse and at times ambiguous. Lanning (1935:45) implies
that Santo Domingo de Napoyca had a priest some time
prior to 1604, but this has yet to be veried. The visitas of
Santa María de la Sena and Moloa, which both received lay
brothers in 1605, apparently became doctrinas for a short time
(Geiger 1937:186; Oré 1936:108). A 1610 document reported
Fray Bermejo as “guardian of the convent at San Francisco
Moloa” (Geiger 1937:234), but little else is known about this
alleged mission. Around this time or shortly after, Santa María
ascended to the status of doctrina, eventually becoming one
of the “four primary mission towns in the Mocama province”
(Worth 1995:10). Besides San Juan and San Pedro, the fourth
Mocama mission was San Buenaventura de Guadalquini (ca.
1605-1684), located at the southern tip of St. Simons Island
(see Hann 1996:175-177; Worth 1995:195-196). This mission,
situated along the extreme northern border of the Mocama
province, lies outside the geographical scope of this paper.
By 1602, with the Mocama mission population reeling
from disease and perhaps outmigration to some degree, it
appears that small numbers of immigrant Timucua-speakers
from Ibihica and other hinterland locales might have been
lured to the Mocama region to inhabit either visitas or the
San Juan del Puerto
Friar Pareja’s List Distance from San Juan Soldiers’ testimony
Vera Cruz ½ league Vera Cruz
San Antonio de Aratobo 2½ leagues San Antonio de Aratobo
Niojo (Molo)15 leagues
Potaya 4 leagues
San Mateo22 leagues
San Pablo2 1½ leagues
Hicacharico 1 league
Chinisca 1½ leagues Chinisca
Carabay ¼ league
San Pedro de Mocama
Friar Lopez’s List Soldiers’ testimony
Santo Domingo
Santa María de Sena Santa María de Sena
San Antonio San Antonio
Chicafayo la Madalena Chicafayo la Madalena
Yca Patano
Moloa el manco4
1. Rendered Niojo by Worth (1998:58) and Moloa by Hann (1996:158).
2. Also appears on soldiers’ testimony as a satellite settlement under the jurisdiction of Nombre de Dios.
3. Hann (1996:159) suggests an association with Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo de Napuyca).
4. Possible error here and perhaps should be associated with San Juan, as Pareja indicates.
Table 1. List of 1602 Mocama settlements.
The Florida Anthropologist
164 2014 67(4)
missions themselves (Lopez 1602; Pareja 1602). As the
number of indigenous inhabitants continued to plummet, a
concerted effort was made, perhaps intensied following a
brief rebellion in 1627 involving the caciques of San Juan and
Vera Cruz, to draw the once-dispersed scattering of Mocama
communities into the missions of San Juan, San Pedro, and
Santa María (Hann 1996:191; Worth 1997:11). San Pedro
was abandoned around 1655 with its inhabitants and the
principal cacique of Mocama moving to Santa María, which
was eventually relocated to San Juan in 1665. In the 1680s
San Buenaventura moved to within a half league of San Juan
and was renamed Santa Cruz. After a decade this transplanted
mission community combined with San Juan del Puerto,
which itself was destroyed in 1702 (Worth 1995).
Archaeology of the Mocama Province
With this review behind us, the question now arises: How
might we discern the archaeological location of early Mocama
villages, visitas, and other mission-related settlements? In the
past such attempts were hindered—or if undertaken, were led
astray—by a lack of consensus as to what native pottery types
marked the Contact-early Mission period Mocama. A litany
of suspected candidates included St. Johns, Wilmington,
Savannah, St. Marys, an unnamed sherd-tempered ware,
as well as various combinations thereof (e.g., Ashley and
Rolland 1997, 2002; Deagan 1978; Goggin 1952; Larson
1958; Milanich 1971; Walker 1985a). Recent research now
clearly points to the grog (or sherd) tempered San Pedro series
as the sixteenth-century ceramic correlate of the Mocama.
This is the same “sherd tempered” ware collected by Milanich
(1971, 1972) from shell middens on southern Cumberland
Ceramic studies suggest that most vessels in Mocama
assemblages are grog tempered, although the range includes
some sand tempered wares (Ashley 2001, 2009; Ashley and
Rolland 1997). The San Pedro pottery series6, dated to ca.
A.D. 1450-1625, consists mostly of plain, obliterated, cob
marked, and check stamped varieties, but cordmarked, textile
impressed, and complicated stamped types also occur (Figure
2). Some time between A.D. 1600 and 1625, Mocama mission
Indians ceased (or greatly reduced) making San Pedro pottery
in favor of San Marcos (alternatively called Altamaha) (Figure
3), which became the signature ware throughout all Mocama,
Guale, and Yamasee coastal settlements north of St. Augustine
(Ashley 2009; Deagan and Thomas 2009a; Hann 1996:86;
Saunders 2000a; Worth 1997:13-14). The reason for the pan-
Atlantic coastal adoption of San Marcos pottery by these
differing ethnic groups is unclear, but it might have related to
interaction networks (Worth 2009) or market forces (Ashley
2013; Deagan and Thomas 2009a:211; Saunders 2009:109;
Waters 2009:176; Williams 2009:121).
Next, we should expect to nd some European artifacts
at Mission-era sites, namely ceramics such as olive jar or
majolica. Additionally, San Pedro is the earliest pottery in
the region recovered from secure contexts in association
with charred maize remains (Ashley 2009). Thus, San Pedro
pottery, preserved corn, Spanish artifacts or combinations
of these might indicate the presence of a Contact or early
Mission period community. Continuity in the location of
Mocama mission visitas (post-A.D. 1587) and earlier contact
villages (ca. 1560s) is expected based on the Spanish practice
of establishing visitas at pre-existing Native villages. Tables 2
and 3 present ceramic information on selected sites that have
yielded San Pedro pottery in Georgia and Florida, respectively.
In the balance of this paper I review the currently known
distribution of San Pedro sites in southeastern Georgia and
northeastern Florida and offer some general observations
about potential mission-related sites, equating them whenever
possible with historically referenced communities (Figures 4
and 5). Though I focus on visitas, these sites likely also were
the location of Contact-era villages. Before proceeding, the
reader must bear in mind that this study suffers from a few
noteworthy biases. First, survey coverage within the Mocama
region is spotty and many areas have yet to be adequately
sampled. Another concern involves the identication of San
Pedro pottery, which as a formal pottery type is relatively
recent (1997) and is only now working its way into the
archaeological literature. In the past (and to some extent today)
it often was treated generically as grog or sherd tempered and
overlooked as mere background noise on multicomponent
sites or typed erroneously as Wilmington in Georgia and
Colorinda in Florida. When ceramic assemblage data allow,
some of these will be treated as San Pedro rather than their
original ceramic type denition. Tables 2 and 3 present the
frequencies of San Pedro and San Marcos pottery from sites
in southeastern Georgia and northeastern Florida, respectively.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
There appears little doubt that the Dungeness Wharf site
(9CM14) holds the remains of at least a portion of the Mission
San Pedro de Mocama (see Figure 4). Archaeological work at
the site over the past four decades has been limited to surface
collections of eroded shell middens and small-scale shovel
testing and unit excavation (Ehrenhard 1976, 1981; Milanich
1971; Rock 2005, 2006, 2009). Early archaeological studies
by the National Park Service (NPS) suffer from problematic
ceramic analysis, in that all plain and decorated sherd-tempered
wares from Cumberland Island were typed as Woodland
period Wilmington, although the author apparently accepts
Milanich’s contention that the site’s “Timucuan inhabitants
made a sherd tempered pottery” (Ehrenhard 1981:12-13).
Rock (2005, 2006, 2009) has condently identied San Pedro
as the dominant pottery type at Dungeness Wharf site. As
revealed in Table 2, it outnumbers San Marcos by a ratio of
more than 4 to 1.
With regard to site structure, Dungeness Wharf consists of
a series of individual shell heaps dotted along the southwestern
bluff for a distance of about 650 m. Mission pottery was
recovered from both shell middens and non-shell areas.
As much as 20 m of bluff has eroded over the last 20 years
(Rock 2006:116), and it is unknown how much of the site has
washed away over the past three centuries. No evidence of
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 165
Figure 2. San Pedro sherds from northeastern Florida.
Figure 3. San Marcos sherds from northeastern Florida.
The Florida Anthropologist
166 2014 67(4)
Site No. Site Name San
Majolica References
9CM14 Dungeness Wharf 2214b518 4249 94 - Milanich 1971; Ehrenhard 1976,
1981; Rock 2005, 2006
9CM177d Devils Walkingstick
Marsh Area
409c111 1317 8 - Walker 1985b
9CM177a Devils Walkingstick
North Bunker
60c- 437 - - Saunders 1985a
9CM177b Devils Walkingstick
South Bunker
243c- 1157 - - DesJean 1985
9CM171a Kings Bay
Bluff Area
1c2236 4136 161 28 Walker 1985c
9CM171a Kings Bay
Artesian Well
158c343 2308 15 1 Saunders 1985b
9CM230 Kinlaw 41d3 104 2 - Kirkland 1987
9CM165 Grover Island Beach 22d6 67 1 - Kirkland 1987
9CM148 Whittler 15d- 43 - - Kirkland 1987
9CM24 Shellbine Creek 77d- 239 - 1 Kirkland 1979, 1987
9CM18 Airport 17d- 310 - - Kirkland 1979
a Alternatively referred to as Altamaha
b Includes sherds typed as San Pedro (Rock 2005, 2006), sherd tempered (Ehrenhard 1976, 1981; Milanich 1971), and Wilmington (Ehrenhard 1976, 1981)
c Includes sherds typed as protohistoric grog-tempered
d Recently reinterpreted by collector as San Pedro (Kirkland n.d.)
Table 2. Ceramic data from selected San Pedro sites in Georgia.
Site No. Site Name San
Majolica References
8NA703 Martin’s Island 300 2 1466 - - Hendryx et al. 2000
8NA9 Old Towne 31b 107 2369 - - Bullen and Grifn 1952
8NA709 Crane Island 302 - 856 - - Dickinson and Wayne 1999
8NA921 Brady Point 425 122 1600 2 - Hendryx et al. 2004
8DU631 Armellino 1412 686 2442 18 - Ashley 2010
8DU63 Cedar Point West 111c 17 491 3 1 Russo et al. 1993; Shreve 1999; Ashley et
al. 2012
8DU7495 Turner McGill 110d - 304 - 1e Ellis 1992, 1995; Russo et al. 1993
8DU7492/93 Ogilve Fireline/Spider 3f 1 48 - - Russo et al. 1993; SEARCH 2006
8DU7490 Ogilve Pond 11f - 105 - - Russo et al. 1993; SEARCH 2006
8DU17791 Cedar Grove 54g 2 279 1 - SEARCH 2006
8DU53 San Juan del Puerto 1117h 6400 12227 212 172 Dickinson and Wayne 1985; Hart and
Fairbanks 1982; McMurray 1973; Russo et
al. 1993
8DU628 Quercus 32 1 486 - - Ashley et a1. 2010
8DU634 JEA Site 1 165i - 1562 - - Lee et al. 1986
8DU669 JEA Site 2 386i - 5139 - - Lee et al. 1986
8DU78 Greeneld Plantation 363 6 1067 1 1 Poplin and Harvey 2000
8DU5544/45 Greeneld Site #8/9 1562 618 10760 1 1 Smith et al. 2000
8DU14 Grant Mound vicinity 63j 6 ~1000 2 - Hendryx and Smith 2002; Johnson 1988;
NEFAS 2000
a Alternatively refered to as Altamaha.
b Includes sherds typed as sherd-tempered
c Includes sherds typed as San Pedro (Shreve 1999) and grog tempered
(Russo et al. 1993)
d Includes sherds typed as Colorinda (Ellis 1992, 1995), but range of surface
treatments is indicative of San Pedro not Colorinda.
e Typed as Spanish Hidroceramo-like
f Includes sherds typed as grog tempered (Russo et al. 1993) and Colorinda
(SEARCH 2006)
g Includes sherds typed as Colorinda
h Includes sherds typed as cobmarked and sherd tempered (Hart and
Fairbanks 1982; McMurray 1973) and Timucua (Dickinson and Wayne
i Includes sherds typed as cobmarked and grog tempered.
Table 3. Ceramic data from selected San Pedro sites in Florida.
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 167
the mission compound has been uncovered thus far suggesting
that either it has eroded away or was located away from the
bluff in another area of the site. Rock (2006:116) notes that
excavations at Dungeness Wharf have produced “a much
lower artifact density and relatively fewer colonoware and
Spanish ceramics” compared to other coastal mission sites,
further suggesting that testing to date mostly has taken place
within the mission’s dispersed Native village.
Few other sites on the island have yielded appreciable
amounts of San Pedro pottery, perhaps a reection of limited
archaeological investigations by NPS. Exceptions include
small sites near Dungeness Wharf and NPS sites CAM 14
(9CM76) and CAM 15 (9CM7), both situated above the
marsh along the west-central part of the island “between
Stafford and Plum Orchard” (Ehrenhard 1981:23, 27). These
sites also yielded notable quantities of San Marcos pottery,
suggesting the presence of a later Mission period component.
It has been suggested that the mission of Puturiba is located
at the Brickkiln/Brickhill Bluff site (9CM85) near the island’s
north end (Ehrenhard 1979:55-56). This site, which consists
of scattered shell heaps, has yielded San Pedro and San
Marcos wares. These three sites all are good candidates for
either Mocama or later Guale- or Yamasee-related mission
communities. Reanalysis of the ceramics
recovered from these sites by NPS over the
years is warranted.
Mainland Georgia (Camden County)
Archaeological sites potentially
representing communities or visitas
associated with San Pedro are known for the
mainland coast and inland Camden County.
Directly across from southern Cumberland
Island is Kings Bay, where testing of
properties associated with the naval facility
has identied at least seven “protohistoric/
historic” archaeological sites containing
San Pedro and San Marcos pottery (Walker
1985a:67). These wares were most abundant
at the Devils Walkingstick (9CM177, Marsh
area) and Kings Bay (9CM171a, Artesian
Well area) sites (see Figure 4 and Table
2), where San Pedro and/or San Marcos
occurred with olive jar in some contexts
(Borremans 1985; Saunders 1985b; Walker
1985b;). Community layout is difcult to
discern because of the multicomponent
nature of the sites, combined with other
postdepositional disturbances, but it seems
likely that the area once housed one or
more Mission period settlements within the
jurisdiction of San Pedro.
Another occupational component
worthy of mention was in the Bluff area of
the Kings Bay site, which yielded more than
2000 San Marcos sherds along with olive
jar and majolica fragments but only one possible San Pedro
sherd (see Table 2). Its artifact composition suggests a mid-
to-late seventeenth century mission-related community, but
none is known to have existed on the mainland at this time
(Worth 1995). Finally, San Pedro sherds have been recovered
nearby at the Cumberland Harbour Shell Midden (9CM249)
on the northeastern end of the Point Peter peninsula during
recent cultural resource management investigations (Thomas
Whitley, personal communication 2007).
Additional locational information on San Pedro sites in
Camden County has been generated over the past few decades
by Dwight Kirkland (1979, 1987) as a result of surface surveys
of cleared elds and other exposed landforms. Of the ve sites
recorded by Kirkland, three (Kinlaw, Grover Island Beach,
Black Point) are along or near Crooked River, whereas two
(Airport, Shellbine Creek) are in the northern part of the
county closer to the Satilla River (see Figure 4 and Table 2).
The Kinlaw, Grover Island Beach, and Shellbine Creek sites
also have yielded Spanish pottery. The Shellbine Creek site
(9CM24) is a large site that consists of “shell refuse mounds
[containing San Pedro pottery] dispersed in a matrix of sparse
shell midden” (Kirkland 1979:15). This site represents an
excellent candidate for a contact village and mission visita.
Figure 4. Distribution of selected San Pedro sites in Camden County, Georgia.
The Florida Anthropologist
168 2014 67(4)
Yamasee and Guale communities of the late seventeenth
century7. Crane Island, immediately off the west-central coast
of Amelia, contains a site (8NA709) with San Pedro pottery in
the absence of both San Marcos and Spanish wares (Dickinson
and Wayne 1999).
Big Talbot Island, Florida
The most thorough distributional data on San Pedro
pottery comes from the southern third of Big Talbot Island,
which was systematically sampled on a staggered 25 meter
grid (Ashley and Thunen 2000). San Pedro wares were
spread across ve archaeological sites along the western side
of the island, from its southern tip north for a distance of
approximately 2000 m. These ceramics occurred intermittently
over this expansive area with several high ceramic and shell
density loci, suggesting that the site’s Contact/Mission period
community was widely dispersed. The core area was located
at the Armellino site (8DU631) on the leeward side of the
island where Mud Creek abuts the island (see Figure 5); a
strategic location that provides direct watercraft access to the
intracoastal waterway. Testing was conducted at the site by the
University of North Florida (UNF) in 1998 and 1999 (Ashley
UNF’s work at the site centered on the excavation of a
roughly 8-x-7 m block excavated over two eld seasons. Within
the upper 30-40 cm of the block was a black earth midden
with little shell, partly disturbed by plantation-era plowing.
The number of San Pedro (n=1273) sherds nearly doubled
the number of San Marcos (n=665) sherds; 18 pieces of olive
jar also were recovered. At the plowzone-subsoil interface,
a bewildering array of more than 50 features was exposed,
consisting mostly of postholes and refuse pits (Ashley 2010).
Only San Pedro (and earlier St. Marys) wares were retrieved
from subsurface features. Small amounts of charred corn were
found in 36 of the block features.
The most notable feature was an arc-shaped stain in the
extreme southwestern corner of the block, which appears to be
a shallow wall-trench. Along the inside wall of the suspected
building was a San Marcos jar that had been shattered by
nineteenth-century plowing. Other features within the exposed
interior section of the structure produced corn, olive jar, and a
large fragment of hematite (likely utilized for its red pigment).
A cob from one of these features was AMS dated to A.D.
1450-1610. On the basis of this radiometric assay and the
presence of the San Marcos vessel and olive jar found inside
the structure a ca. 1600-1610 date is proposed.
Immediately, north of the structure was an array of
postholes possibly related to another building of some sort.
Partly revealed in the far northwestern corner of the block was
an amorphous area of dark soil and charcoal, apparently the
result of some form of re. Not enough of the burned areas
were exposed to interpret precisely what had occurred. Hand-
wrought iron nails, other miscellaneous iron fragments, and
a brass scabbard tip were recovered from the block, as was
a section of an aboriginal pipe bowl with a human face, very
similar to those found along the Georgia coast. Twenty meters
The Whittler site (9CM148), along with additional sites
containing what appears to be San Pedro pottery, is currently
under investigation in the Black Point area (Thomas Whitley,
personal communication 2007). Unfortunately, no information
currently is available on the distribution of San Pedro sites
along the St. Marys River, either the Georgia of Florida side,
owing to the lack of archaeological attention. Although sites
identied by Kirkland may represent satellite settlements
afliated with San Pedro, assigning specic names to them
is difcult based on the scant information provided by Fray
Amelia Island, Florida
To date, the largest collection of San Pedro pottery from
Amelia Island comes from the Harrison Homestead site
(8NA41), which is the possible location of the late seventeenth
century Yamasee settlement of Santa María (pre-1673-1683)
and the indisputable relocated Guale mission of Santa Catalina
(1683-1702). Following earlier sampling efforts by Bullen and
Grifn (1952) and Deagan and Hemmings (1973), the site was
intensively excavated by Rebecca Saunders (1993, 2000a)
of the University of Florida. Saunders’ (1993) excavations
revealed a church (Santa María de Yamasee) partially
destroyed by tidal erosion. Only 40 m to the north she also
uncovered a more complete mission compound including a
church, cemetery, convento, kitchen, and other activity areas
associated with Santa Catalina. What was originally thought to
be the Yamasee church of Santa María might actually turn out
to be the church belonging to the Mocama visita/doctrina of
Santa María de la Sena (Saunders 2000b:8-10; Worth 1995:11,
20, 28, 197). This Mocama village was previously considered
to have been located either on northern Amelia Island or the
mainland near the St. Marys River (Hann 1990:453-454).
John Worth’s archival research indicates that late
seventeenth century Yamasee settlements lacked both
missionaries and churches, so it seems unlikely that the
southern church was Yamasee. The Yamasee community
that moved to Amelia Island prior to 1673 was known to the
Spanish as Santa María, probably owing to its placement at
the former Mocama mission of the same name, abandoned
in 1665. Appreciable quantities of San Pedro pottery were
present at the Harrison Homestead site along the bluff as well
as inland to the east and north onto the adjacent Plantation
Point site (see Table 3). Triple occupation of the site by
sequential Mocama, Yamasee, and Guale populations, all of
whom might have produced San Marcos pottery at one time,
combined with other historic period land-altering activities,
has amassed a complex archaeological record.
Both “sherd tempered” and San Marcos pottery have been
recovered from the Old Towne site (8NA9) at the northern
end of Amelia Island (Bullen and Grifn 1952; Smith and
Bullen 1971). Another nearby site of interest is 8NA4, where
75 of the 128 sherds surface collected were sherd tempered
(Bullen and Grifn 1952:47-48). It is conceivable that the
Mocama mission of Santo Domingo de Napoyca was located
in this part of the island as were one or more of the relocated
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 169
northeast of the block was a contemporaneous shell midden.
Sampling of this refuse deposit produced San Pedro and
San Marcos pottery, olive jar, corn, and a piece of Mexican
Red Filmed. Vertebrate fauna included sh, deer, and turtle.
Documentary and archaeological evidence strongly support
the contention that this is the location of the Contact period
village and visita of Sarabay.
Black Hammock Island, Florida
The southern tip of this island has long been the suspected
location of the San Juan visita of Vera Cruz on the basis of
archival and cartographic evidence. Archaeological support
for this allegation exists in the form of hundreds of San Pedro
sherds from the Cedar Point West site (8DU63) along the
island’s southwestern end (Ashley et al. 2010; Ashley et al.
2012; Russo et al. 1993:39, 232-233; Shreve 1999: Appendix
1). Over a three year period (2009-2011), UNF
excavated more than 500 50-cm square shovel
tests, 65 1-x-2 m units, and 3 one-meter squares
(Ashley et al. 2010; Ashley et al. 2012). A
variable density distribution of San Pedro pottery
was identied as were individual shell heaps
peppered over a broad area (see Table 3). The
upper portion of most of the site has been heavily
disturbed as a result of decades of plowing during
the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. San
Pedro contexts produced limited amounts of
corn, olive jar, San Marcos pottery, and a brass
saturn bell, all thought to date to the Contact
and early Mission periods. Also identied were
high concentrations of San Marcos pottery (with
little or no San Pedro wares present), apparently
representing scattered households related to
the later late-seventeenth century Mocama
mission of San Buenaventura (Santa Cruz) de
Guadalquini (Ashley et al. 2010, 2012).
Testing at the nearby Cedar Point site
(8DU81) to the east by UNF has uncovered
evidence of what we believe is the core area of
the transplanted Guadalquini mission dated to
1684-1696 (Ashley et al. 2013). This mission
community, originally located on St. Simons
Island (Georgia), was renamed Santa Cruz upon
relocation, perhaps reecting a link between
this general area and the name Vera or Santa
Cruz. Abundant San Marcos pottery has been
recovered as well as small amounts of olive jar,
storage jar, and mid-to-late seventeenth century
majolicas. Exposure of a rectangular, partially
daubed structure with large, shell-lled postholes
points to the presence of substantial late Mission
period buildings at the site. The near absence of
San Pedro pottery from 8DU81 suggests spatial
separation between the visita of Vera Cruz and
the core part of the relocated mission of Santa
Possible Mission period ceramic assemblages have been
collected from a series of sites along the western side of the
island north of the Cedar Point West site. About midway up the
island, the adjacent Turner-McGill Middens (8DU7495) and
Holten Middens (8DU7496) are composed of small mounded
oyster middens (Ellis 1992, 1995; Russo et al. 1993:85),
some of which have yielded San Pedro pottery (see Table 3).
The former site also yielded a “Spanish Hidroceramo-like”
sherd (Ellis 1995). Farther north is a cluster of small sites
along the marshes of Pumpkin Hill Creek that includes the
various Ogilvie sites (8DU7490-7493) and the Cedar Grove
site (8DU17791), the latter of which yielded an olive jar sherd
(Russo et al. 1993:80-84; SEARCH 2006). If Vera Cruz was
located at the island’s southern end then these sites could
potentially relate to mission settlements such as Hicachirico or
Chinisca, but this is speculation.
Figure 5. Distribution of selected San Pedro sites in northeastern Florida.
The Florida Anthropologist
170 2014 67(4)
Fort George Island
San Juan del Puerto (8DU53) has received more
archaeological attention than any other Mocama mission, with
sporadic testing conducted since its discovery in the 1950s
(Dickinson 1989; Dickinson and Wayne 1985; Gorman 2008;
Grifn 1960; Hart and Fairbanks 1981; Jones 1967; Russo et
al. 1993). For the most part, however, broad-scale excavations
within the mission proper have yet to be undertaken. A
large artifact collection was amassed by Jones (1967) with
the ceramics analyzed by McMurray (1973). Jones (1967)
identied what he presumed was the mission compound as well
as a trench-like feature interpreted as a palisade. Subsequent
testing by Dickinson and Wayne (1985) reinterpreted this
area as the mission’s Indian village, and they selected another
location to the west as representing the mission compound.
A soil resistivity survey of this new area resulted in the
identication of anomalies proposed to reect the church,
convento, and kitchen and suggested that the mission was laid
out at angle of 60 degrees from magnetic north (Dickinson
1989:404). This interpretation, however, is predicated on a
suspect idealized mission layout and resistance anomalies
were not subject to ground truthing.
Toward this end, Rebecca Gorman (2008) recently has
initiated a new round of site testing. The rst eld season
generated some tentative, yet intriguing, ndings. Shovel
testing and limited unit excavations in the area of the soil
resistivity investigation, where human bones previously had
been found, uncovered additional human burials in grave pits,
a section of a wall trench, square postmolds, daub fragments,
and hand wrought nails (Gorman 2008). Based on the collective
distribution of these materials, and guided by the assumption
that mission burials were interred beneath the church oor, she
tentatively interpreted this as the location of the church and
estimated a building size of “at least 36 meters long and10
meters wide” (Gorman 2008:8). Additional investigations
are required to gain a better understanding of the suspected
building and its relationship to the human burials.
Although the island was the scene of past land clearing and
agriculture, small, circular shell mounds are still visible and
testing has demonstrated that some date to the Mission period
(Gorman 2008; Jones 1967). A recent shovel test survey of
the Borderland site (8DU140) demonstrates that the southern
limits of San Juan del Puerto continue 300 m south of San
Juan Creek (Ashley and Gorman 2011). Cobbling together the
varied results of archaeological testing on the island over the
past 60 years it is apparent that while the core of the mission
is at site 8DU53, mission households were dispersed over a
much broader area than originally supposed. Contrary to the
conventional view that portrays Spanish missions as nucleated
settlements, it seems more likely that missions included
a nucleated core area (mission complex) and a resident
community spread over a very broad area—in the case of San
Juan, much of the island. Nucleation of the entire mission
settlement might only have occurred once population numbers
decreased to the point that it became necessary.
While San Juan del Puerto was a Mocama mission from
beginning to end San Marcos pottery accounts for the bulk of
Mission period Native pottery from the site (Gorman 2008;
McMurray 1973). In the absence of documentary evidence
for the presence of a substantial Guale or Yamasee population
at San Juan, this would appear to corroborate the emerging
proposition that at some point in the early to mid-seventeenth
century, Mocama potters began making San Marcos as their
primary domestic ware (see Table 3).
Mainland Florida North of the St. Johns River (Nassau and
Duval counties)
Archaeological investigations have taken place in a few
disparate areas on the mainland directly across the intracoastal
waterway from the northeastern Florida barrier islands. Small
amounts of San Pedro and San Marcos pottery have been
recovered from the Quercus (8DU628) and Cameron Hammock
(8DU19676) sites across from Black Hammock Island, but
only low-intensity shovel testing has been performed to date
(Ashley et al. 2010). The Martin’s Island site (8NA703) is a
large multicomponent shell midden with signicant San Pedro
deposits, including a possibly afliated wall trench structure
and a human burial (Hendryx et al. 2000:128). Farther inland
at the two JEA sites (8DU634, 8DU639) along the north side
of the St. Johns River, grog-tempered plain and cob marked
wares together with abundant sand-tempered cordmarked
sherds and preserved corn were recovered in the absence of
historic artifacts (Lee et al. 1984). This site recently has been
reassessed as containing a transitional St. Marys-San Pedro
component (Ashley 2009:131-133).
With respect to the current study, the most notable site in
this area is Brady Point (8NA921), which lies on the mainland
west of the Harrison Homestead site (see Figure 5). Mitigation
excavations at this multicomponent site reported San Pedro
and San Marcos pottery from Locus A, characterized as “a thin
sheet midden punctuated by intermittent shell heaps;” Locus
B, which included dense shell deposits eroding along the bluff
edge; and Locus C ,described as a thin sheet midden (Hendryx
et al. 2004:71, 91, 148). Testing of some shell mounds
suggests in situ ceramic transition from St. Marys to San
Pedro, while others indicate contemporaneity between San
Pedro and San Marcos wares. Other materials from San Pedro
contexts included olive jar, Irene series pottery (presumably
San Marcos Incised), and carbonized corn fragments. This site
is likely a satellite community associated with San Pedro, and
perhaps even one of the named communities mentioned by
Fray Lopez.
Southside of St. Johns River (Duval County)
Current evidence for the most intensive Mission period
settlement on the south bank of the St. Johns River comes
from the Greeneld peninsula along the western side of
the intracoastal waterway. San Pedro pottery, in varying
quantities, is distributed across the entire northern tip of the
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 171
peninsula which includes sites 8DU78 and 8DU5544/45.
There San Pedro predominated along with scant amounts of
San Marcos and Spanish olive jar (Johnson 1998; Poplin and
Harvey 2000; Smith et al. 2001). Like other sites in the area,
small mounded shell middens were sprinkled across a broad
area, and unit testing indicated that many contained San Pedro
pottery, sometimes alone and at other times mixed with earlier
St. Marys wares. Preserved corn cobs also were removed from
San Pedro contexts. Archival and archaeological data suggest
that the visita of San Pablo was located on the Greeneld
peninsula. In addition, a distinct locus in 8DU5544/45, where
mostly San Marcos pottery has been recovered, is believed to
be associated with the ca. 1700 refuge community of Pilijiriba
(Johnson 1998:45-50; Smith et al. 2001:40-41, 60-67; Stull
To the west in the Fulton area, salvage excavations were
conducted in the late 1980s at the Riverwoods site (8DU11831),
which has been touted as the visita of San Mateo (Holland
1987). It has been reported that “Timucuan” sherd-tempered
pottery and San Marcos wares were found along with Spanish
olive jar and majolica plate fragments (see Table 3). The most
eye-catching discovery was a purported structure consisting
of a shell-lled wall trench and an interior hearth associated
with early Mission period artifacts. Hearth remains included
charred maize fragments. A report of ndings has yet to be
written so details are lacking. Farther west, Mission period
pottery and olive jar have been collected from multicomponent
sites in the Mill Cove area in the vicinity of Grant Mound
(8DU14) (Hendryx and Smith 2002; Johnson 1998; NEFAS
2000). This marks the westernmost concentration of Mission
period artifacts, although a few San Pedro, San Marcos, and
Irene (San Marcos Incised) sherds have been recovered to
the southwest near the Jacksonville University. With these
latter locations in mind, it has been suggested on the basis of
documentary evidence that the village of Moloa might have
been located southwest of San Juan in the general area where
the north-south St. Johns River channel bends sharply to the
Discussion and Conclusion
The ultimate aim of this exploratory study has been
to draw attention to the distribution of Mocama sites
across the landscape and provide a foundation for more
comprehensive future research. Accepting San Pedro pottery
as an archaeological correlate of the Contact-early Mission
period Mocama is essential in gaining a more complete
understanding of the postcontact era. Because most Mocama
sites are part of multicomponent deposits that have only been
investigated in a cursory fashion, no clear patterning has
emerged regarding community layout or site function. These
types of interpretation must await broad-scale excavations
and detailed analyses at specic sites. Moreover, the regional
database is not yet robust enough to determine how various
sites articulated with one another and the main Mocama
missions and the sequencing of settlement patterning change
and consolidation that characterized the postcontact era, but
it does allow a glimpse into the social geography of the early
Mission era. I conclude with a few impressionistic comments
based on some recurring aspects of Mocama sites and some
topics for future research.
Many Mocama sites, including the missions San Juan and
San Pedro, exhibit individual shell-dominated refuse heaps, 3-7
meters in diameter, peppered over broad areas. Such deposits
have yielded San Pedro pottery, Spanish olive jar, and charred
corn fragments, although quantities vary by site, context, and
extent of testing. These same materials also derive from non-
shell portions of the same sites. A like patterning of mounded
shell middens also characterizes earlier St. Marys (A.D. 1250-
1450) sites in the region, and the co-occurrence of St. Marys
and San Pedro in some middens suggests a developmental
relationship between the two pottery assemblages, though
the exact timing is uncertain (Ashley 2009). In northeastern
Florida, we are beginning to identify a transitional assemblage
marked by cordmarked sherds with coarser tempering and
wider cord impressions.
How much household shifting, whether within sites or
between different site types, went on during a given year
is unclear, but agriculture may have required the regular
movement of garden plots to accommodate farming on coastal
soils. Available evidence suggests that maize agriculture
among the Mocama was a late precolumbian additive to the
coastal subsistence mix, perhaps emerging as late as A.D.
1450-1500 (Ashley 2009:131). Another important research
question concerning the mounded shell middens is: are they
indicative of seasonally specic procurement and disposal
activities or are they the by byproduct of year round use?
The general impression provided by preliminary survey
and testing data is that Mocama settlements were more
dispersed than the conventional model of a walled village with
tightly clustered houses, as discussed earlier. Archaeological
data on Mocama settlements fall more in line with the
previously quoted 1602 description by both Alonso de las
Alas and Fray Lopez of San Pedro (Ashley 2013:161-162).
That is to say, communities consisted of a varying number
of dispersed households engaged in an array of domestic
activities such as the exploitation of estuarine resources and
the farming of small garden plots. These households were
tethered to a community center with chiey residences and
a council house that during the Mission period would have
housed a chapel of some sort or in cases of missions a suite
of structures including at a minimum a church, convento, and
In conclusion, where do we go from here? Clearly, any
future interpretations of Mocama life and changes must
place greater emphasis on archaeological data. We cannot
continue to allow historical documents to tell the entire story.
While written sources provide a wealth of vital information
on Timucua lifeways, they cannot be accepted uncritically.
Documents are much more complex than a straightforward
reading would suggest. Patricia Galloway (1995:19), wisely
points out that “historical narratives are already preinterpreted
secondary sources, their translations are tertiary, and analysis
of such translations to discern their factual content becomes
The Florida Anthropologist
172 2014 67(4)
something like brain surgery carried out wearing gardening
gloves.” Historical documents must be used to their fullest
potential, but it is mandatory that future research involve a
histiographic critique and employ consistency with regard to
which ethnohistorical observations are accepted as factual and
which are rejected as misrepresentation or fabrication.
Ceramics are a fruitful avenue for more in-depth research,
particularly with regard to how pottery and other material
items relate to or manifest identity and boundary maintenance,
if at all. Throughout the southeastern United States, spatial
concentrations of stylistically similar items of material culture
have been documented in the archaeological record, strongly
suggesting a degree of correspondence between material
culture patterning and some form of social group identity or
zone of interaction. While archaeologists typically assume
that such patterns reveal ethnic groups, it is possible that the
patterning reects social distinctions or interactions at smaller
or larger scales, depending on the particular case at hand
(Stark 1998; Worth 2009). Thus, a stylistic boundary identied
in the archaeological record may very well mark a legitimate
social boundary of the past, but it “should not automatically be
equated with an ethnic boundary, without further information
on social processes” (Hegmon 1998:273).
At present, documentary and linguistic information
combined with the spatial occurrence of known pottery
types at archaeological sites across the landscape suggest
that a correlation of some kind exists between some historic
Timucua groups and particular archaeological ceramic
assemblages. Specically an association is suggested, with the
Outina, Potano, and Mocama coinciding with the St. Johns,
Alachua, and San Pedro series, respectively. Strong similarities
between San Pedro (Mocama) and Alachua (Potano) ceramic
assemblages (in decorative styles and vessel forms) parallels
the fact that the two groups spoke the two closest related
Timucuan dialects, which all may be tied to a common
ancestry in southern Georgia (Ashley 2009:133). The Mocama
also maintain a different ceramic assemblage (in decorative
styles and vessel forms) from the Guale to the north, and it has
been suggested that the two groups were separated by a buffer
zone situated between the Satilla and Turtle rivers in Georgia
(Ashley et al. 2013). Again it is unclear whether ceramic
assemblages delimit social/sociopolitical boundaries, reveal
interaction patterns between groups, or identify ethnicities,
polities, or languages/dialects. Mocama archaeology in
conjunction with historic documents is primed to address such
broader theoretical concerns.
Future studies also should move beyond just
identifying Contact and Mission period settlements and start
systematically exploring their physical layouts. Site specic
studies need to incorporate detailed zooarchaeological and
paleoethnobotanical analyses to document continuities and
changes in Native diet throughout the mission period as well
as variations across La Florida. Attention should be directed
at examining the changing social landscape with respect to
how contact villages converted to visitas and how visitas
eventually consolidated into missions. European arrival
was not a moment of contact but a protracted process that
affected Florida Natives for nearly two centuries (Milanich
1999, 2004). Efforts should be made to situate Mocama
social history and culture-building in the context of European
contact, colonization, and missionization and view Indians as
active agents in the process. Our ultimate concern should be to
focus on Natives and newcomers as dynamic and interacting
communities rather than as static and isolated entities.
1. We do not know what the self-identifying term was for
the Mocama or the broader Timucua speakers. We have
superimposed the historically derived name of their
language and dialects onto the indigenous landscape. I
have chosen to refer to the indigenous coastal population
of extreme northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia
as Mocama to provide more cultural and geographical
specicity. The broader term Timucua drapes a cloth
of uniformity over a variety of distinct groups and
archaeological complexes who shared a broadly similar
2. A small painting on vellum discovered in a castle near
Paris, France in 1901 was once thought to be an original
LeMoyne watercolor. Now curated at the New York
Public Library, the vellum painting has been shown not
to be a LeMoyne but rather an early copy of the 1591
de Bry engraving, likely dating to the early 1600s (Feest
1988:36-37; Milanich 2005:29-30).
3. It is worth mentioning that the Franciscans were not the
rst religious order to proselytize in La Florida; secular
priests attended Menendez’s founding of St. Augustine
and within a year Jesuit friars were beckoned to minister
to the Natives. Menéndez’s goal was to place a Jesuit at
missions and garrison outposts in strategic locations along
the tidewater frontier of La Florida from south Florida to
Chesapeake Bay. In effect, Spain’s goal was to create a
“pax hispanica” that would integrate a subjugated Native
population (Hoffman 2002:57). Among the earliest Jesuit
missionaries was Fray Pedro Martinez who on his maiden
voyage to La Florida in 1567 got lost, went ashore for
directions, and was allegedly held underwater and
clubbed to death by Mocama Indians somewhere between
Ft. George and Cumberland islands, becoming the rst
Catholic martyr in the Americas (Gannon 1965:32).
Sensing failure, beleaguered Jesuits ofcials formally
ended missionary efforts in La Florida in 1572 (Gannon
4. During early Mission times, Mission San Pedro de
Mocama on Cumberland Island was the seat of power
among the maritime Timucua villages (Lopez 1602).
Spanish ofcials frequently referred to the region from
the St. Johns River, Florida north to south St. Simons
Island Georgia as San Pedro—or less often Mocama—
apparently owing to the primacy of this mission among the
Distribution of Contact and Early Mission Period Sites in the Mocama Province
Ashley 173
coastal Timucua north of St. Augustine (Hann 1996:18;
Milanich 1996:98; Worth 1995:10). By the second half
of the seventeenth century, San Juan del Puerto would
assume the mantle of leading mission in the Mocama
5. Linking these two south-of-the-river settlements to
Nombre de Dios may have an earlier Spanish precedence.
Based on Spanish accounts, Seloy in the St. Augustine
area was placed under the domain of Chief Saturiwa,
whose village was located approximately 30 miles to the
north along the south side of the St. Johns River. However,
Saturiwa’s coalition appears to have extended, not to
the south but to the north among the Mocama-speakers
of coastal southern Georgia. In fact, contact-era French
accounts offer convincing evidence for a strong alliance
among Saturiwa, Tacatacuru, and other coastal Timucua
straddling the Florida-Georgia border (Bennett 1968;
1975; Lawson 1992). Thus the connection or placement
of Saturiwa (and other Mocama villages along the river’s
south side) and Seloy (and Nombre de Dios) within the
same confederation (jurisdiction) might be more of an
imposed Spanish bureaucratic or geographical convention
rather than a formal Native alliance.
6. Presently, San Pedro pottery is only known to occur on
sites in Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties, Florida
and Camden County, Georgia. It has not been reported for
Glynn County Georgia, including St. Simons Island. San
Buenaventura appears to have been located at the southern
tip of St. Simons Island near the lighthouse, but this area
has been severely eroded and built over. San Marcos/
Altamaha pottery not San Pedro has been recovered from
this area (see Ashley et al. 2013).
7. At one time it was thought that Santa María de la Sena
was located at the north end of Amelia Island (Hann
1990:453-454). More recent scholarship, however, places
it at the Harrison Homestead site in the west-central part
of the island (Worth 1995).
I would like to thank Jeff Mitchem, Becky Saunders, Vicki
Rolland, David Hurst Thomas, and anonymous reviewers who
provided constructive comments on various drafts of this paper.
Thanks also to Buzz Thunen for Figure 2. I also appreciate
the help and guidance of the journal’s editors, Jeff Du Vernay
and Julie Rogers Saccente, in getting this manuscript ready
for print.
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... 14 Around each friar-occupied mission community (doctrina) was a small outlying cluster of Native villages or visitas that fell under the spiritual guidance of the neighboring mission friar. 15 In time, continuing population loss within the mission provinces due to epidemics and emigration led the Spanish to coordinate the relocation of visita communities to nearby doctrinas, a process known as congregación. The formal combining of mission settlements (reducción) among the Mocama began around 1655, with the transfer of the entire San Pedro population to Santa María, and they all moved to San Juan in 1665. ...
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A round 1667, less than a decade after their emerging coalescence along the northern periphery of Spanish La Florida, several refugee communities retreated into the Guale and Mocama mission provinces under mounting attacks by Chichimeco Indian slave raiders. Spanish officials allowed these immigrant Yamasee to settle at abandoned mission doctrina and visita locations on Atlantic coastal barrier islands. In present-day Florida, they initially reoccupied settlements formerly inhabited by Mocama on Amelia Island and, by 1679, also had repopulated Timucua missions along the middle St. Johns River, north (Anacape) and south (Mayaca) of Lake George. No Yama-see settlements appeared in the St. Augustine vicinity during this initial wave of refugees into Spanish Florida. Though not missionized at this time, the Yamasee were expected to provide tribute and laborers to local chiefs and the Spanish colony, respectively. By 1683 most of these towns were again emptied as the Yamasee evacuated Florida and fled north to English Carolina. Archaeological evidence of this first phase of Yamasee occupation in Florida (ca. 1667-83) is limited, as few sites of this era have been excavated or even systematically sampled. Moreover, early Yamasee sites on Amelia Island that have been tested also were occupied earlier by mission period Mocama and later by Guale immigrants-all three of whom manufactured San Marcos/Altamaha pottery-making it difficult to identify distinct Yamasee occupational components. This chapter reviews the first Florida phase of Yamasee history and discusses what is currently known about the distribution of early Yama-Bossy.indd 55 6/14/18 2:50 PM
In the late fall of 1597, Guale Indians murdered five Franciscan friars stationed in their territory and razed their missions to the ground. The 1597 Guale Uprising, or Juanillo's Revolt as it is often called, brought the missionization of Guale to an abrupt end and threatened Florida's new governor with the most signifcant crisis of his term. To date, interpretations of the uprising emphasize the primacy of a young Indian from Tolomato named Juanillo, the heir to Guale's paramount chieftaincy. According to most versions of the uprising story, Tolomato's resident friar publicly reprimanded Juanillo for practicing polygamy. In his anger, Juanillo gathered his forces and launched a series of violent assaults on all five of Guale territory's Franciscan missions, leaving all but one of the province's friars dead. Through a series of newly translated primary sources, many of which have never appeared in print, this volume presents the most comprehensive examination of the 1597 uprising and its aftermath. It seeks to move beyond the two central questions that have dominated the historiography of the uprising, namely who killed the fve friars and why, neither of which can be answered with any certainty. Instead, this work aims to use the episode as the background for a detailed examination of Spanish Florida at the turn of the 17th century. Viewed collectively, these sources not only challenge current representations of the uprising, they also shed light on the complex nature of Spanish-Indian relations in early colonial Florida.
The early European presence in California and in the American Southwest in general is identified with missions. Although missions were equally important in Spanish Florida and at an earlier date, the average American does not associate missions with Florida or Georgia. Indeed, as David Hurst Thomas observed in a recent monograph on the archaeological exploration of a site of the Franciscan mission of Santa Catalina de Guale on Georgia's St. Catherines Island, the numerous missions of Spanish Florida have remained little known even in scholarly circles. And as Charles Hudson has noted, this ignorance or amnesia has extended to awareness of the native peoples who inhabited those Southeastern missions or were in contact with them, even though these aboriginal inhabitants of the Southeast “possessed the richest culture of any of the native people north of Mexico … by almost any measure.” Fortunately, as Thomas remarked in the above-mentioned monograph, “a new wave of interest in mission archaeology is sweeping the American Southeast.” This recent and ongoing work holds the promise of having a more lasting impact than its historical counterpart of a half-century or so ago in the work of Herbert E. Bolton, Fr. Maynard Geiger, OFM, Mary Ross, and John Tate Lanning. Over the fifty odd years since Lanning's Spanish Missions of Georgia appeared, historians and archaeologists have made significant contributions to knowledge about sites in Spanish Florida where missions or mission outstations and forts or European settlements were established. But to date no one has compiled a comprehensive listing from a historian's perspective of the mission sites among them to which one may turn for the total number of such establishments, their general location, time of foundation, length of occupation, moving, circumstances of their demise and the tribal affiliation of the natives whom they served. This catalog and its sketches attempt to meet that need.
Archaeology is poised to play a pivotal role in the reconfiguration of historical anthropology. Archaeology provides not only a temporal baseline that spans both prehistory and history, but the means to study the material remains of ethnic laborers in pluralistic colonial communities who are poorly represented in written accounts. Taken together, archaeology is ideally suited for examining the multicultural roots of modern America. But before archaeology's full potential to contribute to culture contact studies can be realized, we must address several systemic problems resulting from the separation of "prehistoric" and "historical" archaeology into distinct subfields. In this paper, I examine the implications of increasing temporal/regional specialization in archaeology on (1) the use of historical documents in archaeological research, (2) the study of long-term culture change, and (3) the implementation of pan-regional comparative analyses.