Discovering San Antón de Carlos: The Sixteenth-Century Spanish Buildings and Fortifications of Mound Key, Capital of the Calusa

Abstract

In 1566, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived at the capital of the Calusa kingdom. During that same year Menéndez issued the order to construct Fort San Antón de Carlos, which was occupied until 1569. This fort was also the location of one of the first Jesuit missions (1567) in what is now the United States. We now can confirm what archaeologists and historians have long suspected: the location of the fort and the capital of the Calusa was Mound Key (8LL2), located in Estero Bay in southwestern Florida. In this article, we present the first archaeological evidence of structures and fortifications associated with the 16th-century Spanish fort and mission of San Antón de Carlos. We conducted this work, which includes both remote sensing and excavation, in an effort to better document the history of the Calusa capital up to and including the colonial period.

Extracto

En 1566, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés llegó a la capital del reino de los calusas. Durante ese mismo año, Menéndez emitió la orden de construir el Fuerte San Antón de Carlos, que se ocupó hasta 1569. Este fuerte también fue la ubicación de una de las primeras misiones jesuitas (1567) en lo que ahora es los Estados Unidos. Ahora podemos confirmar lo que los arqueólogos e historiadores han sospechado durante mucho tiempo: la ubicación del fuerte y la capital de los calusas era Mound Key (8LL2), ubicado en la Bahía de Estero en el suroeste de Florida. En este artículo, presentamos la primera evidencia arqueológica de estructuras y fortificaciones asociadas con el fuerte español del siglo 16 y la misión de San Antón de Carlos. Realizamos este trabajo, que incluye tanto la teledetección como la excavación, en un esfuerzo por documentar mejor la historia de la capital de los calusas hasta y durante el período colonial.

Résumé

En 1566, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrivât dans la capitale du royaume de Calusa. Durant cette même année, Menéndez donnât l'ordre de construire le Fort San Antón de Carlos, qui fut occupé jusqu'à 1569. Ce fort fut également le site de l'une des premières missions jésuites (1567) dans ce qui constitue de nos jours les États-Unis. Nous pouvons à présent confirmer ce que les archéologues et les historiens ont suspecté de longue date, à savoir que l'emplacement du fort et de la capitale de Calusa était Mound Key (8LL2), situé à Estero Bay dans la partie sud-ouest de la Floride. Nous présentons dans cet article les premières preuves archéologiques de structures et fortifications associées au fort espagnol du 16ème siècle et à la mission de San Antón de Carlos. Nous avons conduit ces travaux, lesquels incluent tant une télédétection que des fouilles, dans le cadre d'un effort visant à mieux documenter l'histoire de la capitale de Calusa jusqu'à la période coloniale incluse.

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Notes

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    Modeled dates in this paper are presented in italics. See Hamilton and Krus (2018) for a discussion of reporting conventions.

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Acknowledgments:

Research at Mound Key was supported in part by a grant from the Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society (No. 9258-13), a Faculty Research Grant from the University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Research, the John S. and James L. Knight Endowment for South Florida Archaeology, and a collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation (No. 1550909). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We would like to thank the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia, the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, the Department of Humanities of Flagler College, the Koreshan State Park, and the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research. A number of individuals facilitated our work at the site by providing either logistical support or volunteers for fieldwork. These people include Julie Byrd and Mary Glowacki at the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research; Andy Tetlow and Robert Brooks of Mound Key State Archaeological Park; Cindy Bear of the Randell Research Center; Nancy Kilmartin for boat support and help in the field; Melissa Ayvaz, Alex Brown, Justin Cramb, Matt Colvin, Travis Jones, Michael Kappers, Nathan Lawres, Jake Lulewicz, Isabelle Lulewicz, Kat Napora, Gracie Riehm, Brandon Ritchison, and the students of the Florida Gulf Coast University field school; along with Mike McDonald and Alison Elgart for their help in the field. Elizabeth Reitz and Shelby Jarrett helped with the identification of vertebrate faunal remains. We appreciate Mary Porter’s keen editorial eye and thank her for her reading of the manuscript. We appreciate the thoughtful comments of the reviewers for their close reading of the manuscript. Finally, we very much appreciate the help and support of Ted, Todd, and Tim McGee. Our research would have been far more difficult without their assistance.

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Thompson, V.D., Roberts Thompson, A.D., Marquardt, W.H. et al. Discovering San Antón de Carlos: The Sixteenth-Century Spanish Buildings and Fortifications of Mound Key, Capital of the Calusa. Hist Arch 54, 334–353 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41636-020-00236-6

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Keywords

  • Calusa
  • Jesuit
  • Spanish fort
  • sixteenth century
  • Florida