UNF: Students dig deeper into one-thousand-year-old Native American history in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UNF students are digging deeper into the past to understand the history of native Americans who lived in Jacksonville 1,000 years ago.

On Monday they showed us what they uncovered after spending 6 weeks out on Big Talbot Island searching for the remains of two ancient villages.

We watched as students sifted through dirt samples they collected while digging.

They found fragments of old animal bones and oyster shells and recovered pieces of pottery that’s nearly 1,000 years old.

“You got to be really careful because some of the pottery is really frail or some of the bones especially can break apart in your hands,” said Ian King, a UNF student.

Dr. Keith Ashley is an anthropology professor at UNF and he says his students are digging deeper into the history of those remains.

“We really had to focused on this community that dates to about 1,000 A.D. and then another community on another part of the island that dates to about 1500 to 1600 A.D. and that one was actually in the Spanish and French documents and it’s known as Sarabay, the Village of Sarabay,” said Dr. Ashley.

He said their archeology lab is trying to help people understand the native Americans who lived in our area.


“A  lot of times their history is not in history books. I mean it’s literally beneath our feet so through archelogy we’re excavating these areas and trying to bring their history back to life,” he said.

“It’s like being a detective and learning about the people who occupied America before I was even a thought in this world,” said Hannah Blythe, a UNF student.

Learning about their history is one reason why Ian King became an anthropology minor and why he wanted to take this class.

“You also feel this sense of connection with the past cause you know you’re the first human in like a-thousand years to be able to see this,” said King.

UNF students will go back out to Big Talbot Island in the fall to learn more about these ancient native American villages.

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