By Alan Yuhas | The Guardian
Archaeologists announced on Tuesday that they have found the Spanish fort of San Marcos on Parris Island, South Carolina, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot
They arrived with cannons and guns, and quickly built a fort on the coast of this vast, uncharted territory to ward off native people and French settlers. But after 21 years, Spain’s northernmost settlement on the east coast of North America was abandoned , and stood hidden for the next four centuries.
Archaeologists announced on Tuesday that they have found the Spanish fort of San Marcos on Parris Island, South Carolina, under what is now a golf course at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
Santa Elena was founded in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the conquistador who earned himself the title of Florida’s governor the year before, when he founded the settlement of St Augustine. Menéndez carried the brutal politics of Europe to the Americas: that same year he ordered the massacre of more than 200 French settlers who would not renounce their Protestant sect for Catholicism.
Leery of French ambitions on the coast, he founded Santa Elena to the north – near an abandoned settlement of French Huguenots who had mutinied a few years earlier. The Spanish also struggled with food shortages and disease, and had hostile relations with the local Orista and Guale people. By 1576 the tribes managed to sack the town and force the Spanish out completely, only for the conquistadors to return the next year with new settlers, soldiers and material for a new fort of San Marcos.
Archaeologists have now been able to map the site for the first time, in research to be published this week in the Journal of Archaeology Science Reports.
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