Glass beads discovery questions Spaniards colonization route in US

November 16th, 2007 - 2:11 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 16 (ANI): The discovery of glass beads and ancient slivers of iron in South Georgia, US, might prompt historians to reconsider the exact path that Spaniards took during their first successful colonization expedition in North America.
The finding, made by a high school girl during a digging expedition, is of a glass bead no larger than a pencil eraser. It has four other beads, plus two ancient slivers of iron.
Historians are certain that the beads came from the glass forges of Murano, a Venetian island. They’re equally sure the beads were manufactured early in the 16th century. The Italians used them in trade with the Spaniards.
When ships pressed westward toward La Florida in the early 1500s, they carried the handiwork of Murano in their holds. They also carried iron that could be converted to ax heads or used as weapons.
The discovery came about when Archaeologist Dennis Blanton of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and his team had went into a forest near Jacksonville looking for the remains of a long-lost Spanish mission. But what one of their team members found was something which was a century older than the mission.
The significance of the discovery is because of the accepted history of the route that the Spaniards took during their first colonization expedition in North America more than five centuries ago.
In 1526, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, a Spanish sugar planter, attempted to start a colony in North America. Historians believe that the expedition chose a site on the Georgia coast. That little-known expedition ended in death and rebellion, and the location of Ayllon’s short-lived settlement remains a mystery.
Fourteen years later, Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer, and more than 1,000 others crossed into Georgia from what is now Tallahassee. It was the beginning of a trek that wound across swamp and mountain, encompassing a swath of what is now the Southeastern United States.
But over the years, historians have changed their minds on the path de Soto and his followers took as they went further into the deep forests.
Since the early 1980s, they’ve generally agreed that he crossed the Ocmulgee near Macon, which is about 100 miles from the Fernbank dig.
But the discovery of the beads and iron at Fernbank suggests that the route of the Spaniards might have been through the forests of Jacksoville.
“Ayllon and de Soto doubtless carried beads and iron for trade and gifts”, said John Worth, an assistant professor of archaeology at the University of West Florida.
But this hypothesis also has its own contradictions.
“Because the beads found at the dig were used for gifts and for trade, Native Americans could just as easily have exchanged them among themselves as European visitors,” said Chester DePratter of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology.
This implies that the beads might have also belonged to a lost settlement of the native Americans.
“The presence of the artifacts doesn’t necessarily change de Soto’s route through the wilderness,” said.Worth. “Nor is it proof of a lost settlement,” he added.
But according to Jamil Zainaldin, president of the Georgia Humanities Council, “Refining history helps illuminate the little-known period when two disparate cultures met, forever changing communities, countries and a continent.”
“The discoveries will help Georgians get a better idea of where Spaniards walked their state,” said state archeologist Dave Crass. (ANI)

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