Finding our Roots

Archaeological sites are places where the present meets the past. Through digs the people of today connect with the people of the past. There they can unearth their heritage. In 1989, the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board used a dig at the Ribera Garden as an opportunity to educate the public about historical archaeology.

A color photograph of a group of visitors viewing an archaeological excavation site with an interpreter in a colonial costume.
An interpreter speaks to visitors at the Ribera Garden excavation in 1989.

During the ten week project, the public filed into Ribera Garden – located on St. George Street – to see archaeology in action. A trained interpreter in a period costume greeted visitors – who learned about the garden and the archaeological work at hand. Visitors also received a chance to visit the screening area. There they could see artifacts appear as archaeologists sifted through piles of dirt using screens (Some lucky onlookers even got to participate in this activity).

The Ribera Garden dig introduced over 75,000 people to archaeology. A guest book from the site recorded visitors from St. Augustine as well as from across the United States. Some onlookers even came from as far as Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America. As part of the project, over 12,000 educational pamphlets on the excavation – like the one seen bellow – went home with the visitors.

A black and white education pamphlet with activities, images, and information about archaeology in St. Augustine.
An example of the educational pamphlets used at the Ribera Garden excavation. (UFDC)

Here archaeology proved an excellent tool for bringing the past to the present for so many of St. Augustine’s visitors. It gave the public an opportunity to directly interact with an excavation in action – and even participate in the screening process. This tangible link to St. Augustine’s heritage still continuous to inspire residents and travelers alike to explore our city’s roots.

One thought on “Finding our Roots

  1. Pingback: St. Augustine’s Historic Gardens – Governor's House Library

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