Tag Archives: Archeaology

Digitizing the Castro Archaeological Site

In a recent collaboration with the Department of Anthropology, FSU’s Digital Library Center has digitized thousands of objects including photos, field notes, and other fascinating material produced during 2000-2002 of the Castro archaeological site located right here in Leon County, Florida.

The Castro site was one of many Franciscan missions found in Northwest Florida. Established by Spain in 1663, these missions were built on Apalachee homelands and functioned until they were destroyed in the early 1700s by Anglo-Creek military forces from the Carolina colony. These sites were eventually abandoned by the Apalachees and indigenous peoples, and evidence of their existence was buried over time by natural processes.  

Guided by FSU Anthropology Professor Dr. Rochelle Marrinan, students in the Field School surveyed and excavated the Castro site to analyze its settlement pattern and layout with an emphasis on its church complex. In both Anthropological Fieldwork courses, ANT4824, and ANG5824, the students learned and practiced basic survey, excavation, preparation, and analysis of cultural materials.

Students carefully excavating a portion of the Castro site
Students carefully excavating a portion of the Castro site. [See original object]

Using a combination of flatbed scanning and photographic techniques, the Digital Library Center digitized the wide range of material from this project. Included in the Castro Archaeological Site Collection are photographs, video, topographic maps of the site, detailed hand-written notes by each student, and other administrative and analysis documents. The findings of these hard-working teams are now publicly available in DigiNole and can be found here.

Page of student field notes from the Castro site.
Page of student field notes from the Castro site. [See original object]
Digitizing the Castro site material isn’t the first time the DLC has collaborated with FSU’s Department of Anthropology. The Windover Archaeological Site Collection in DigiNole details the digs of an Early Archaic site near what is now Titusville, Florida. Unearthing the secrets of Florida’s rich and complex history is a fascinating experience and we look forward to our next collaboration with the Anthropology Department.

Digital Windover

Detail from Field Notebook at Windover, 1985
Detail from Field Notebook at Windover, 1985

In 1982, a construction crew started what was supposed to be a routine de-mucking of a small pond in preparation for road construction of Windover Way. It is located in east central Florida, about 16 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. However, in the course of the construction work, human remains were discovered. Once it was determined they were not of forensic interest, the construction company contacted Florida State University anthropology faculty to create a research proposal for the landowners.

What followed was three field seasons at Windover from 1984-86 that uncovered the remains of 168 individuals as well as other culturally significant objects from a mortuary pond dated from between 6000-5000 BC. Because of the peat and small pond nature of the site, not only skeletal material but also normally perishable organic artifacts were also discovered. Perhaps most interestingly, enough brain matter was recovered from some skulls to conduct DNA sequencing on the remains.

A partnership with the Department of Anthropology is bringing data from the Windover digs to DigiNole. We have loaded the first batch of materials which includes field notes and excavation forms from the digs. More field notes and forms will follow shortly. We’ve also working with Digital Support Services at the University of Florida to digitize x-rays of the bones found at Windover. Maps and digitized slides from the seasons will come at a later date as well.

The DLC has been excited to work on this project as it lets us continue to develop models for these sorts of “split” projects where digitization is happening both in the Department of Anthropology and the DLC, allowing each group to work in their area of expertise as well as splitting the work to move forward in a more efficient way.

For more information about the Windover site and the work done there, see Doran, G. H., & Thomas, G. P. (2015). Windover: an overview. Tagungen des landesmuseums fur vorgeschichte halle, 13, 1-19. To see the digital collection, visit DigiNole.