Thursday, August 10, 2017

Establishing the Size of Luna’s Settlement

John E. Worth
© UWF Archaeology Institute

The 2015 identification of Tristán de Luna’s 1559-1561 terrestrial settlement on Pensacola Bay was based on substantial and unprecedented archaeological evidence for mid-16th-century Spanish and Aztec residential habitation across a landform that had already been long suspected to be one of the best candidates for the site, both based on documentary descriptions and the presence of two shipwrecks from Luna’s colonial fleet just offshore.  But this was just the beginning of the story for UWF archaeologists, whose next challenge was to explore the extent and nature of the archaeological deposits at the site in greater detail.  As I described in a blog post last year, “How large would Tristán de Luna’s 1559-1561 settlement have been?,” documentary accounts indicate that Luna’s settlement was initially sketched out to comprise 140 house lots, 40 of which were to be reserved for a plaza, church, warehouse, and other public structures, with the remaiming 100 lots to be laid out for 100 families to remain at the port settlement once the expedition pushed north into the interior.  Projecting a 5 by 7 rectangular configuration of four-lot blocks, the initial town configuration would have been laid out during the five weeks between arrival and the hurricane that destroyed Luna’s fleet, and would have housed some 1,500 colonists and stranded sailors for the first six months, with only 362 remaining in the settlement a year later after several evacuations on relief ships returning to Mexico, dwindling to less than 200 inhabitants by the spring of 1561.

Since the site’s discovery in the fall of 2015, archaeological survey and excavations have been conducted on an ongoing basis by the University of West Florida Archaeology Institute, with one of the principal goals of 2016 work focused on “bounding” the site, or systematically determining how big of an area is covered by the Spanish debris scatter resulting from the two-year occupation of Santa María de Ochuse.  To this end, more than 900 shovel tests were excavated across the entire neighborhood surrounding the initial find, each providing a 50 x 50 cm “snapshot” about a meter deep of what artifacts were present and what the soil layers looked like in that area.  Shovel testing both within and beyond the artifact scatter established a general boundary for the site’s maximum extent, while simultaneously providing an important assemblage of tightly-dated mid-16th-century artifacts that comprise the standard “residential” material signature for the Luna expedition.  The same basic assemblage of residential debris is scattered from one end of the site to another, including numerous sherds of assorted Spanish and Aztec ceramic vessels and wrought iron nails and spikes, not to mention routinely-encountered fragments of basalt grinding stones, a range of arms and armor parts such as crossbow bolt tips, lead shot and sprue, fragments of mail, brigandine, and jack plate armor, and assorted other personal items including copper-alloy straight pins, copper lacing aglets, and other clothing fasteners and buckle fragments.

The results of the 2016 shovel test survey as well as the 2016 UWF summer field schools at the site, combined with subsequent laboratory analysis of the artifacts discovered, has provided a much clearer picture of the size and configuration of the Luna settlement site, as we reported in the spring 2017 conference of the Florida Anthropological Society in the paper “The Discovery and Exploration of Tristán de Luna’s 1559-1561 Settlement on Pensacola Bay” (coauthored by John E. Worth, Elizabeth D. Benchley, Janet R. Lloyd, and Jennifer Melcher, but drawing on field and lab work undertaken by many additional staff and students).  The spatial distribution of several categories of diagnostic Luna expedition artifacts overlap one another, including 16th-century lead glazed redware, Columbia Plain majolica, Aztec ceramics, and caret head nails, but the most abundant diagnostic is early Spanish olive jar, which is distributed across a total area of roughly 12.7 hectares, or 31 acres.  This includes 8.9 hectares on the level upper summit of the terrace overlooking Pensacola Bay, with another somewhat lighter artifact scatter across 3.8 hectares extending along the lower slope down close to the shore and surrounding a freshwater pond draining to the west.  If we overlay a projected rectangular settlement grid based on the documentary accounts on top of the archaeological distribution on the upper terrace (see schematic below), the rectangle measures 375 meters by 290 meters, with a projected main site area of roughly 11 hectares, or just over 27 acres (not counting the additional area below the terrace, which appears to have been a secondary activity area surrounding the freshwater spring drainage and boat landing along the lower bluff).

Schematic Map of Luna Settlement Site

Now that we have archaeological data revealing the Luna settlement’s size to be somewhere between 12.7 and 14.8 hectares, we can confirm that this is by far the largest mid-16th-century Spanish residential site in the entire Southeastern United States, larger than both 16th-century locations of St. Augustine (about 1 and 4 hectares) and the contemporaneous location of Santa Elena in South Carolina (6 hectares).  Since the Luna settlement originally housed 1,500 settlers, more than double the number of settlers living in 16th-century St. Augustine and Santa Elena (with between 300-600 inhabitants in each), the huge size of the archaeological site of Santa María de Ochuse is entirely consistent with what we would expect, though its two-year duration was of course far shorter than the later Spanish colonies to the east, leaving a somewhat lighter trace on the landscape.

Apart from simply being a huge random scatter of Spanish debris, or objects accumulated by local Native Americans (whose apparently small seasonal camps at the edges of the site throughout much of prehistory are concentrated along the bluff margins of the bay and bayou; see also the previous blog post here), we also now know that the site is accompanied by direct evidence of Spanish structures, trashpits, hearths, and other activity areas.  The 2017 UWF terrestrial archaeological field school at the Luna settlement site has built upon previous fieldwork at the site to open up even larger excavation units in search of intact evidence for Spanish residential presence.  Even though the total area excavated between shovel tests and larger excavation units represents only a fraction of a percent of the entire site area, examples of all these feature types have already been found (see pictures below).

Profile of burned Spanish post, with inset showing olive jar sherds packed vertically along the posthole walls.

Trashpit deposits in place.

Spanish firepit deposits in plan view and profile (inset).

Structural features include a deep, burned post found in 2016 with a charred post remnant and a wrought iron nail still in place and with olive jar sherds in the posthole fill, and a second nearby post found this year with the same depth and size (though not burned below ground like the first one).  Also this year we discovered a straight line of three probable Luna-era postholes of equal depth within a single 2x2 meter excavation unit.  And in 2016, we excavated a large trashpit packed with 16th-century trash such as broken barrel bands, Spanish pottery sherds, nails and spikes, wire, a smashed Native American bowl, a few shells, and a complete deer antler.  And on yet another end of the site, mechanical stripping of topsoil in advance of house construction exposed a firepit deposit containing Spanish olive jar sherds and a wrought iron nail fragment amid shell and wood charcoal. 

In addition to pit features, we also have good evidence for routine on-site activities that would have been carried out by Spaniards while living at the site.  For example, several areas have produced direct evidence of the on-site casting of lead arquebus shot, including a number of unfinished and unfired lead balls with sprue snipped off them with scissors (and sometimes still attached), along with a good number of lead droplets and splatter (see below).

Evidence of on-site lead casting and the use of scissors.

In sum, the broad distribution of mid-16th-century Spanish artifacts at the Luna site are clearly a result of a large number of Spaniards living on site, and the association of these artifacts with pit features resulting from Spanish structures and the activities of daily life at the site is exactly what we would expect for the short-lived occupation at Santa María de Ochuse.  Now that we have established the site boundaries and begun a more thorough exploration of the subsurface deposits, we look forward to continuing our exploration of this large and important colonial site over coming years.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crossbows and the Luna Expedition

John E. Worth
© UWF Archaeology Institute

Excavations conducted by the University of West Florida Archaeology Institute at the 1559-1561 Tristán de Luna settlement on Pensacola Bay have only been going on since November of 2015, but during that short time an important assemblage of tightly-dated mid-16th-century artifacts has already been recovered for detailed study and analysis.  One thing that has become clear is that the terrestrial artifacts from the Luna settlement are in many cases identical to those that have previously been discovered on the Emanuel Point I and II shipwrecks not far offshore, providing further confirmation that all these sites resulted from the same Spanish colonial expedition.  One of the artifact types found in both terrestrial and maritime contexts is the crossbow bolt tip, four of which had previously been recovered from the bow section of the Emanuel Point I wreck during the 1990s (Bratten 2009:111-113; photos below from the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum and the UWF Archaeology Institute).  Another four of these copper bolt tips have now been discovered on the terrestrial Luna settlement site, two during 2016 and two found during 2017 UWF excavations as recently as this week (photos immediately below).

Unconserved copper crossbow bolt tips found at the Luna settlement site.

Conserved copper crossbow bolt tips on display at the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum.

Conserved copper crossbow bolt tips on display at the UWF Archaeology Institute.

These artifacts, while rare, provide a tangible link to a piece of medieval weaponry, the crossbow (ballesta), that would only last another decade or so as a part of typical Spanish military equipment in the New World.  The crossbow would soon be completely replaced by firearms such as the match-lock arquebus (arcabuz) and musket (mosquete).

Image of 15th-century crossbowman from “Le Livre de chasse” (cited below), f. 96r.

The Luna expedition carried both crossbows and arquebuses, but while the arquebuses were among a list of items to be purchased directly from Spain (Eguino 1560), the crossbows were evidently brought directly from Mexico.  Even though they receive comparatively little direct mention in the correspondence and narratives of the expedition (Priestley 1928; Dávila Padilla 1625), financial accounts of the Luna expedition make direct reference to crossbows among 2,250 lbs. of diverse goods transported by one drover from Mexico City to the ships at San Juan de Ulua, and also among 1,900 lbs. of “weapons and munitions” transported by another drover (Yugoyen 1569).

As a military weapon, the crossbow did not survive long past the Luna expedition, though crossbows were still in use during the first years of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ successful Florida settlements at St. Augustine and Santa Elena in 1565 and 1566.  This was not simply a coincidence; Menéndez reported that the Florida Indians learned quickly that Spanish matchlock arquebuses could not function well during rainstorms, and adjusted their tactics accordingly.  In 1566, Menéndez wrote to the king that “arquebuses without crossbows in this land are useless weapons, and we cannot defend ourselves from the Indians nor make war against them without crossbows, since every day they kill us Christians without us being able to kill an Indian if we do not have crossbows.” Menéndez further specified that “these savages are so skillful that, trusting in their agility and strength, which they never lose, they attack us when it rains when we cannot take advantage of the arquebuses.”

Documentary records confirm that Menéndez’s soldiers used both crossbows and firearms, and both types of weapons were included as part of normal military equipment in Florida during the late 1560s, including during the 1566-1568 Juan Pardo expeditions into the deep interior Southeast.  Warehouse inventories provide evidence for substantial numbers of these weapons; during the two years of Juan de Junco’s oversight of the St. Augustine warehouse between 1567 and 1569, the warehouse was recorded to have originally contained or received 394 crossbows and 10,368 bolts, of which 169 crossbows with 3,468 bolts were issued to soldiers, leaving a balance of 225 crossbows and 6,900 bolts in the warehouse after his departure late in 1569 (accounts found in Legajo 941, Contaduría, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain).  During the same period, however, only 161 arquebuses were recorded, of which 109 were issued to soldiers, with just 52 remaining in 1569.  Nevertheless, inventories of 13 ships that arrived in St. Augustine with supplies from Spain between 1568 and 1587 contain not a single crossbow, but included some 44 arquebuses and 25 muskets along with lead and lead shot, match cord, and gunpowder and powder flasks (Lyon 1992:37-50).  Moreover, two decades later, by the time of later and more continuous St. Augustine warehouse accounts covering the period between 1592 and 1602 (in Legajos 947, 949, and 950, Contaduría, AGI), only arquebuses and muskets and their associated equipment and munitions were listed, with crossbows and bolts completely absent from the royal warehouse.  Clearly, military crossbows had gone out of use in Florida by no later than the early 1590s.

Pinning down the exact timing of this transition from crossbows and firearms to only firearms is difficult using Florida records alone, but Spanish ship manifests across this period show a far clearer pattern.  My own review of the inventories of armaments, equipment, and supplies loaded on a diverse array of Spanish ships between 1523 and 1615 (generally found in the Contratación section of the AGI in Seville, many digitized and online) shows that both crossbows and firearms (initially escopetas, followed by arcabuzes) were included as ship’s armament through 1570, after which only firearms (arcabuzes as well as the larger mosquetes) remained.  At the same time as the abandonment of the crossbow, thrown projectile weapons such as the javelin (gorguz) and dart (dardo) also disappeared from the inventories, though polearms (pikes, halberds, lances, etc.) persisted throughout the entire 16th-century.  Though crossbows were and are still employed in hunting game, their common military use seems to end after about 1570, making crossbow bolts a reliable diagnostic marker of only the earliest Spanish era in Florida.

Apart from the Luna settlement and Emanuel Point I wreck, archaeological finds of crossbow bolt tips in Spanish Florida are extremely limited, including one iron tip from the Governor Martin Site in Tallahassee (Hernando de Soto’s 1539-1540 winter encampment) and eight iron tips from the site of Menéndez’s 1566-1587 settlement of Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina (Ewen and Hann 1998:80; South et al. 1988:100-103).  Notably, all crossbow bolt tips from Spanish expeditions originating in Spain seem to have been made from iron, while those from expeditions originating in Mexico were almost exclusively made from copper, including not just the Luna expedition but also the 1540-1542 expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, on which Luna himself had been an officer (Gagné 2003).  Another copper bolt tip virtually identical to those from the Luna settlement and wrecks was found at the Poarch Farm site in northwest Georgia (Langford and Smith 1990), and although both Soto and Luna expeditions are believed to have passed through the site as part of the chiefdom of Coosa, the copper bolt tip seems most likely to have been a product of Mateo del Saúz’s stay there during the Luna expedition.

The production of copper crossbow bolt tips by Mexican Indian craftsmen is in fact documented as early as 1521, when Hernando Cortés ordered the native towns around Texcoco to produce more than 50,000 crossbow bolts and helmets of indigenous copper using Spanish models within a space of eight days before the seige of Tenochtitlán (Díaz del Castillo 1796:166-168).  Early Spanish satisfaction with these results seems to have translated into a longer-term local industry, likely accounting for the clear dominance of copper bolt tips on both the Coronado and Luna expeditions to the modern United States.  The eventual disappearance of these Mexican-made copper bolt tips from the archaeological record seems less likely to have been a result of differences in effectiveness in comparison to iron (since metal armor was not present among American Indians), and much more likely to have simply been a result of the overall decline in use of the military crossbow within half a century of the initial Mexican production of copper bolt tips in the 1520s.  Nevertheless, the Luna settlement continues to reveal additional evidence of this short-lived industry, highlighting the fusion of Old World and New World technologies during the early colonial era.

Selected References

Bratten, John R.
2009    The Mesoamerican Component of the Emanuel Point Ships: Obsidian, Ceramics, and Projectile Points. The Florida Anthropologist 62(3-4):109-114.

Dávila Padilla, Augustín
1625    Historia de la Fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores, por las vidas de sus varones insignes y casos Notables de Nueva España (pp. 189-229 for the Luna section).  Online Here

Díaz del Castillo, Bernal
1796    Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, Vol. 3.  Imprenta de Don Benito Cano, Madrid.

Eguino, Antonio de
1560    Accounts of weapons, munitions, trade goods, and other things that were bought to send to the viceroy of New Spain by order of His Majesty.  Legajo 283, Contaduría, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.

Ewen, Charles R., and John H. Hann
1998    Hernando de Soto among the Apalachee: The Archaeology of the First Winter Encampment.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Gagné, Frank R., Jr.
2003    Spanish Crossbow Boltheads of Sixteenth-Century North America: A Comparative Analysis.  In The Coronado Expedition from the Distance of 460 Years, editors Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint, pp. 240-252.  University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Langford, James B., Jr., and Marvin T. Smith
1990    Recent Investigations in the Core of the Coosa Province.  In Lamar Archaeology: Mississippian Chiefdoms in the Deep South, editors J. Mark Williams and Gary Shapiro, pp. 104-116.  University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Lyon, Eugene
1992    Richer Than We Thought: The Material Culture of Sixteenth-Century St. Augustine.  El Escribano 29:1-117.

Menéndez de Avilés, Pedro
1566    Letter to the Spanish Crown, October 15, 1566.  Legajo 115, Santo Domingo, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.

Phebus, Gaston
1401-1500       Le Livre de chasse, que fist le comte PHEBUS DE FOYS, seigneur de Bearn.  Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 617.;4

Priestly, Herbert Ingram
1928    The Luna Papers: Documents Relating to the Expedition of Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano for the Conquest of La Florida in 1559-1561.  DeLand: Florida State Historical Society.  Volume I online Volume II online

South, Stanley, Russell K. Skowronek, and Richard E. Johnson
1988    Spanish Artifacts from Santa Elena.  Occasional Papers of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Anthropological Studies 7.  Columbia, South Carolina. Online Here

Yugoyen, Martín de
1569    Audit of the accounts of Alonso Ortíz de Urrutia, deputy treasurer of Veracruz, March 21, 1554–January 31, 1559 (and through November 4, 1559)Legajo 877, Contaduría, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.  Translations by R. Wayne Childers (1999) on file, Archaeology Institute, University of West Florida, Pensacola.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dominican Missionaries and the Luna Expedition

John E. Worth
© UWF Archaeology Institute

Though King Phillip II was principally focused on establishing a successful Spanish colony in Florida in order to head off rumored French colonization along the Atlantic coast there, and in so doing to assure the safety of Spain’s New World treasure fleets on their return voyage, the missionary potential of the Luna expedition was not far behind in Spanish thinking.  The possibility of distributing missionaries among the native peoples of southeastern North America in an effort to expand the reach of Christendom had long been a concurrent objective of Spanish exploration and colonization efforts in Florida, and not a single state-sanctioned expedition here lacked priests who served both as ministers to Spanish explorers and as prospective missionaries to the Indians they encountered.

Indeed, standard language in all royal contracts with officially-sanctioned expedition leaders included statements underlining the importance of both good treatment and conversion of native peoples.  In one of the original December 1557 decrees authorizing the Florida expedition that would eventually be led by Tristán de Luna a year and a half later (transcribed in Legajo 1013, Justicia, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain), the Spanish crown specifically directed that its leader should “bring the people of that land and provinces to the understanding of our holy Catholic faith by way of preaching and good treatment, and that among the people who might go [on the expedition] some missionaries should be sent, so that by means of them and their preaching they should come into knowledge of God our lord, and live in Christian order.”

By the time of the Luna expedition, the Dominican order had been involved in the mission effort in Florida for more than a decade, and had actually lost several members to martyrdom during the failed expedition of Fray Luis Cancer to Tampa Bay in 1549 (see Worth 2014:23-28,154-189).  Though Cancer’s idealistic strategy of converting the Florida natives using only a small group of missionaries without any military support was abandoned for the time being (though the Jesuits subsequently used the same approach in 1570 at Chesapeake Bay, with even more disastrous results), the Dominican order nonetheless sent six missionary priests on the Luna expedition.

Seal of the Order of Preachers, or Dominican Order, on the cover of Dávila Padilla (1625).

In charge of the group was provincial vicar Fray Pedro de Feria, accompanied by Frays Domingo de la Anunciación, Domingo de Salazar, Bartolomé Matheos, Juan de Mazuelas, and Diego de Santo Domingo.  A considerable amount of equipment accompanied the Dominicans; expedition financial records reveal that some 5,000 lbs. of “the ornaments and vestments necessary for the divine liturgy” were transported, along with some 2,000 lbs. of “goods and vestments” pertaining to the friars themselves, along with 900 lbs. of goods belonging to “the Indians who were going in the company of the missionaries who were going for the conversion of the natives of the said province of Florida” (Yugoyen 1569).  This latter group apparently included Southeastern Indian women that had been brought out during the 1539-1543 expedition of Hernando de Soto, who were serving as advisors to the Dominicans.  It was in fact these women who urged the Dominicans to insist that sufficient food be taken on the Luna expedition to avoid colonists having to rely on local Indian food stores, since this had been a serious cause of discord on previous Spanish expeditions (Feria et al. 1559).

Of the original Dominican party, Matheos drowned during the hurricane while awaiting shipboard to bring news to Spain, and Feria, Mazuelas, and Santo Domingo returned to New Spain after the main colony returned from Nanipacana in central Alabama to Santa María de Ochuse on Pensacola Bay (the Luna settlement).  The remaining two friars, Anunciación and Salazar, however, not only stayed throughout the rest of the expedition, but in fact played prominent roles throughout the entire Luna expedition, including having accompanied the detachment of 200 sent from Nanipacana to the chiefdom of Coosa in Northwest Georgia between April and November of 1560.  The detailed recollections of this thrust into the northern interior under Sergeant Major Mateo del Sauz formed an important part of the only major published account of the Luna expedition prior to the 20th century.  This account comprised a lengthy narrative almost certainly originally authored by Fray Domingo de la Anunciación himself, and that was subsequently embedded within the larger volume originally published in 1596 by Fray Augustín Dávila Padilla (2nd edition from 1625 online, linked below).  This narrative of the Luna expedition provides what amounts to a Dominican’s perspective on the events of the expedition, and gives amazing detail regarding the role of the missionaries within the colony, up to and including their role in resolving bitter internal disputes between Luna and his officers during the expedition’s second winter of 1560-1561, culminating in an emotional public reconciliation during Palm Sunday Mass.

Even though the Dominicans were sent primarily as missionaries tasked with initiating the conversion of the native peoples of Florida, their missionary work at Ochuse was actually quite limited; documents indicate that there was little interaction between the Luna settlers and scattered local Indian groups in the Pensacola Bay region, whose habitations were described as only consisting of “some few camps of Indians who appear to be fishermen,” and who had only “few possessions and roots” and were thus not seen as a reliable source of food that the colonists could trade for (Velasco 1559; Priestley 1928: v.1:116-119, v.2:274-275).  In fact, Anunciación himself reported only having baptized a single elderly Indian woman on her deathbed in the chiefdom of Coosa more than a hundred leagues into the interior, marveling at the irony that the entire expense and hardship of the Luna expedition had only achieved a single conversion (Dávila Padilla 1625:221-222). 

The actual role of the Dominicans on the expedition was much broader, and included ministering to the spiritual needs of the Luna soldiers and settlers themselves.  Even though the Dominicans were not the only clergy on the Luna expedition, the secular cleric Licenciado Juan Pérez de Barandalla was described by Viceroy Luis de Velasco as being opinionated and having a “rough” temperament (and apparently completely illegible handwriting), and thus the viceroy suggested that if he could not get along with the Dominicans he would be granted permission to leave, even though his service was needed as a supplement to the Dominicans in administering sacraments to so many Spaniards (Priestley 1928, v.1:110-111, 126-127).  Barandalla did ultimately remain until the April 1561 evacuation of most remaining settlers, but clearly occupied a secondary position.

The Dominican friars thus played a prominent role in acting as priests for the diverse members of the Luna expedition, leading daily Masses and administering other routine sacraments throughout the duration of the expedition.  Catholicism was very much a part of daily life for mid-16th-century Spaniards, and even the annual calendar itself was framed in the Catholic liturgical cycle, and each day was commonly known by its association with individual saints or religious feasts (see overview online here).  The importance of personal religiosity is also evidenced by the common presence of strings of wooden rosary beads and Latin prayer books among even the most ordinary sailor or soldier’s possessions inventoried and documented upon death (many such documents, called “bienes de difuntos,” are found in the Contratación section of the Archivo General de Indias in Seville).  Amazingly, some of these wooden prayer beads have even been recovered on the nearby Emanuel Point shipwrecks, along with a fragmentary amber bead probably from one of the more expensive rosaries in use at the time, also commonly made from jet, coral, bone, crystal, and jasper (see pictures below). 

Field shot of wooden bead from Emanuel Point II wreck (courtesy of Dr. John Bratten).

Amber bead fragment from Emanuel Point II shipwreck.

Every Spanish colonial town had its principal church on the main plaza, and the Luna settlement was no different; the Dávila Padilla narrative describes the church at Santa María de Ochuse as “a poor ramada that served as a church,” from which “the greater part of the people” processed daily to and from a large cross erected on the beach while saying the Litanies.  Though we have yet to find direct evidence of the location or configuration of the church at the Luna settlement, it doubtless would have been one of the largest structures on the site, fronting on the plaza in the main public district of the town.

While the Dominicans who accompanied the Luna expedition comprised only 6 out of the original population of 1,500 settlers, they nonetheless generated a comparatively substantial documentary record of the expedition as it unfolded on the ground, and played a pivotal role in the daily life of the settlement and its inhabitants.  Although the archaeological signature of the religious component of the expedition will likely be small in comparison to the more mundane realities of subsistence, housing, and other daily activities on site, we hope we will eventually be able to find some traces of the Dominican presence and the places they lived and worked in at the Luna settlement.

Selected References

Dávila Padilla, Augustín
1625    Historia de la Fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores, por las vidas de sus varones insignes y casos Notables de Nueva España (pp. 189-229 for the Luna section).  Online Here

Feria, Pedro de, Domingo de la Anunciación, and Domingo de Salazar
1559    Letter to the Spanish Crown, May 4, 1559.  Legajo 280, Mexico, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.

Priestly, Herbert Ingram
1928    The Luna Papers: Documents Relating to the Expedition of Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano for the Conquest of La Florida in 1559-1561.  DeLand: Florida State Historical Society.  Volume I online Volume II online

Velasco, Luís de
1559    Letter to the Spanish Crown, September 24, 1559.  Legajo 19, Ramo 9, Patronato, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.  Faulty transcription from Legajo 280, Mexico, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain, included in Priestley (1928, v.2:268-277).

Worth, John E.
2014    Discovering Florida: First-Contact Narratives of Spanish Expeditions along the Lower Gulf Coast.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville (ISBN: 978-0813049885).

Yugoyen, Martín de
1569    Audit of the accounts of Alonso Ortíz de Urrutia, deputy treasurer of Veracruz, March 21, 1554–January 31, 1559.  Legajo 877, Contaduría, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.  Translations by R. Wayne Childers (1999) on file, Archaeology Institute, University of West Florida, Pensacola.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Royal Warehouse at the Luna Settlement

John E. Worth
© UWF Archaeology Institute
One of the first and most important public structures that would have been erected at the Luna settlement was the royal warehouse, which would have been the secure storage location for all the colony’s food, supplies, equipment, and munitions.  Referred to by various names in Luna expedition documentation including “Royal House” (casa real), “King’s House” (casa del rey), “Supply House” (casa del bastimento), and “Royal Treasury House” (casa de la real hacienda), the structure would have been located on the main town plaza and very likely nearest the path to the port landing, where supplies would have been offloaded.  Documentary accounts of the Luna expedition (many transcribed and translated in Priestley 1928, below) make it abundantly clear that during the first five weeks after Luna’s fleet entered Pensacola Bay, the settlers must have first set about exploring the bay and deciding on the best location to found their first town, after which they doubtless cleared the undergrowth and laid out the initial grid of streets and house lots, simultaneously unloading the equipment and supplies needed to begin constructing housing to shelter the 1,500 people that just disembarked.  Since the ships remained at anchor not far offshore, and could therefore be used as temporary floating warehouses to store anything not needed for the initial construction effort, the vast stores of food not immediately needed on land were left on board (Dávila Padilla 1625:194), and Luna’s colonists seem to have focused initially on getting their own residences erected.  Apparently, even this task was largely incomplete when the hurricane of September 19-20, 1559 arrived from the east (see Worth 2009), devastating most of the fleet and the food on board, and probably flattening many half-built structures on land.

The completion of a formal royal warehouse and other public structures probably post-dated the hurricane, but given the dire straits in which Luna’s settlers found themselves after the loss of most of their food stores and ships, its construction must have been a priority in the aftermath of the storm.  Correspondence between Tristán de Luna and the viceroy Luis de Velasco indicates that not only would such a warehouse be necessary to keep all remaining food and any relief supplies that would arrive over coming months under lock and key, but it would also be used to keep the sails, rudders, and oars of all vessels while anchored at port, minimizing the possibility that any of the settlers or stranded sailors could seize a vessel to escape Florida.  A huge amount of subsequent legal documentation generated in the Luna settlement itself (found in Legajo 1013, Justicia, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain, folios 96r-161v; see also Priestley 1928,v.1:198-v.2:137) confirms that the warehouse was kept locked and could only be opened by the royal officials Alonso Velázquez Rodríguez (treasurer) and Alonso Pérez (accountant) for the distribution of rations or anything else housed there.  Even Luna himself was barred from entry during 1560 disputes with his officers over the issuance of rations for an ill-advised journey inland to Coosa, and over his order to release the sails of a vessel to be sent to New Spain.  In those instances, the royal officials sided with the Maese de Campo Jorge Cerón in his refusal to allow Luna to make unilateral decisions without consulting all his company captains and other officers.

So what would this royal warehouse have looked like, and what might it have contained?  Like all the structures at Santa María de Ochuse, the warehouse would have been constructed of wood poles and planks, and probably roofed with either thatch or perhaps cypress bark, possibly even with the use of some clay daubing.  It would likely have been a substantial structure, likely among the largest in the settlement with the possible exception of the church.

No inventory of the contents of the royal warehouse at the Luna settlement has yet been found, and unfortunately much of the equipment and armaments shipped from Mexico City’s own armory for the expedition was transported in uninventoried crates according to the records we do possess. So apart from a few brief mentions in the documents, to some extent we are left with only the archaeological traces of lost or broken items at the site of the warehouse as direct evidence of its general contents.  Fortunately, however, we do have a few comparative inventories from royal warehouses in Florida’s later settlements at St. Augustine and Santa Elena, and these can provide us a rough “snapshot” of the kinds of things normally stored in such a structure (see also Lyon 1992).  A pair of 1569 inventories from the warehouse at Pedro Menéndez’s settlement at Santa Elena (found in Legajo 941, Contaduría, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain) illustrate a diverse range of items, including not just foodstuffs but also clothing, tools and supplies, a wide range of containers, and an array of weapons, armor, and even artillery (presumably mounted at the fort, but still under inventory control of the quartermaster).

Santa Elena Warehouse, 1569
Pedro Menendez Marquez and Juan de la Bandera combined inventories (modernized quantities)
35 casks of wheat flour with 775 lbs. of flour in each one
18 casks of flour from New Spain, each one with 8 iron hoops, full and in good condition.
3 casks of rotten flour
12,450 lbs. of corn
3,453 liters of wine in 11 casks
25 liters of olive oil in 4 olive jars
1.5 liters of honey in an olive jar
734 lbs. of salt at the amount of 140 lbs. per fanega, amounting to 5.25 fanegas

18 pairs of stockings
7 felt hats with their thin cords
25 blankets, 20 all white and 5 striped
32 complete sword belts, and another 2 hangers without belts
40 pairs of sandals
19 pairs of shoes

Tools and Supplies
2 steelyard scales, one weighing 378 lbs. with its weight, and the other of 200 lbs. with its weight
2 balances of iron with copper pans
2 iron weights, one of 1 lb. and the other of ½ lb.
1 iron pick
5 shovels of iron
3 mattocks
9 pole hooks
1 small grindstone for grinding
2 pairs of shackles
1 set of prison stocks, old, broken, and without a lock
2 iron padlocks with keys and without screws
300 lbs. of scantling nails
175 lbs. of siding nails
150 lbs. of flooring nails
151 lbs. of bolts
2 large cauldrons for whaling
17 harpoons for whaling
10 lancets
3 spoons
1 basket with 20 whaling knives

1 large copper cauldron weighing 34 lbs.
1 large copper pot weighing 50 lbs.
1 copper pitcher with 7.5 liter capacity
2 wine bags with their nozzles
392 wooden bowls, small and large
90 wooden plates
8 ceramic olive jars of ½ arroba [6.28 liters]
88 casks that were received with wine and flour and empty.
41 broken casks
360 iron barrel hoops
5 burlap sacks
3 crates without locks or keys
7 barrels in which the nails [above] were received

Weapons and Armor
17 complete crossbows
17 goats-foot levers
49 dozen crossbow bolts
17 cords, on each crossbow its own
7 crossbow stocks
17 quivers.
8 pikes with their tips
8 extra pike tips
117 bucklers of dragon-tree wood
65 escaupiles (cotton padded armor)

1 bronze cannon weighing 5,369 lbs.
1 bronze cannon weighing 5,250 lbs.
1 bronze half-saker
1 bronze half-saker weighing 385 lbs.
1 bronze half-saker weighing 1,414 lbs.
1 bronze half-culverin weighing __96 lbs.
1 bronze half-culverin weighing 3,140 lbs.
1 bronze saker weighing 2,021 lbs.
1 bronze saker weighing 1,200 lbs.
1 bronze piece weighing up to 900 lbs.
37 barrels of gunpowder, and in them are 3,515 lbs. of cannon powder
175 lbs. of arquebus powder in 2 barrels
309 artillery balls
9 copper loaders for loading the said [artillery] pieces
_ ramrods
1 hoist for the service of the artillery
1 large iron hammer for the said [artillery]
8 pulleys of wood for the service of the artillery
36 loafs of lead that weighed 4,435 lbs.
3 molds for making shot for versos [small artillery]

To these comparative inventories from 16th-century east Florida we may also add a 1559 list of munitions, tools, and trade goods requested from Spain by Viceroy Luis de Velasco for the use of Luna’s Florida expedition (found in Legajo 283, Contaduría, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain).  Even though these goods may never have actually been offloaded at the Luna settlement (the request was not fulfilled in Spain until early 1560, and the shipment did not arrive in New Spain until mid-year for dispatch on one of the relief expeditions), they nonetheless provide an illustration of some of the kinds of items that may have been included in uninventoried crates loaded on the first fleet, that eventually ended up stored in the royal warehouse at Santa María de Ochuse.

Munitions, Tools, and Trade Goods Requested by the Viceroy of New Spain for the Florida Colony, 1559
Tools and Supplies
50 [pieces of] canvas
50 barrels of tar
10,000 lbs. of pitch
600 lbs. of bolts, each 3/8 of a yard long
600 lbs. of sharp half-foot nails, of the longest that are found
6,000 lbs. of round bolts
1,000 lbs. of siding nails
1,000 lbs. of flooring nails
1,000 lbs. of half-size flooring nails
50,000 tacks
100,000 pump tacks
2 pairs of bellows, some large and others small
10,000 lbs. of sheet and bar iron
2,000 lbs. of steel
12 levers
12 iron mattocks and as many shovels
4 grapnel anchors for the shallops, each one of 400 lbs.
2 grapnels for the skiffs
2 seine nets for fishing, each one 60 fathoms long, with their accessories

Trade Goods
2 boxes filled with glass beads of all types
some little brass basins and red buttons and knives from Flanders and scissors and cheap mirrors and hawk’s bells, all of which should cost up to 200 ducats
400 yards of simple taffetas, yellow and sunflower and red and blue and carmine
1 dozen pieces of linen from Calcutta
1 piece of blue cloth
1 yellow piece
2 red pieces
1 green piece
1 purple piece

Weapons and Armor
150 inexpensive arquebuses
50 breastplates
50 Biscayan corselets
100 morion helmets
50 round shields
1,000 javelins
200 light javelins
200 half-pikes
100 pikes
4,000 lbs. of gunpowder
1,000 lbs. of sulfer
12 goat’s foot levers

2 bronze artillery pieces of 2,000 lbs., each one with 200 iron shot
2 bronze artillery pieces of 1,500 lbs. with 300 iron shot
4 bronze falconets with chambers of up to 800 or 1000 lbs., each one with 600 shot

Indeed, the 2015 discovery by UWF archaeologists of a handful of glass trade beads along with hundreds of sherds of Spanish olive jars and other ceramics, plus an array of wrought iron nails and diverse other materials, and several small subsurface pits that might have been used for storage, would seem to provide support for the idea that this particular location may well have been the site of the settlement’s warehouse.

Trade beads from the Luna settlement site (left: Nueva Cadiz bead; right: Faceted 7-Layer Chevron beads)

Further testing and analysis of artifact assemblages across the Luna settlement site may eventually allow us to understand whether residential areas and other specialized structures and activity areas had different relative proportions of specific categories of material culture. In addition, we will search for physical traces of the public and private structures erected there more than 450 years ago, such as preserved posts or more ephemeral traces of architectural features.  While this type of archaeological analysis and interpretation is by no means an easy or quick affair, we look forward to making inroads into understanding the internal configuration of the Luna settlement, and getting better glimpses of the lives of its 16th-century inhabitants.

Selected References

Dávila Padilla, Augustín
1625    Historia de la Fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores, por las vidas de sus varones insignes y casos Notables de Nueva España (pp. 189-229 for the Luna section).  Online Here

Lyon, Eugene
1992    Richer Than We Thought: The Material Culture of Sixteenth-Century St. Augustine.  El Escribano 29:1-117.

Priestly, Herbert Ingram
1928 The Luna Papers: Documents Relating to the Expedition of Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano for the Conquest of La Florida in 1559-1561.  DeLand: Florida State Historical Society.  Volume I online Volume II online

Worth, John E.
2009    Documenting Tristán de Luna’s Fleet, and the Storm that Destroyed It.  The Florida Anthropologist 62(3-4): 83-92.