Researchers in northern believe they’ve uncovered the remains of a long lost Native American settlement last reported on in the 16th century.
Sarabay was mentioned by both French and Spanish colonists in the 1560s, but it’s been considered a ‘lost city’ until now.
Excavating the southern end of Big Talbot Island off the coast of Jacksonville, archaeologists uncovered both Indigenous and Spanish pottery and other artifacts dating to the late 16th or early 17th century that match cartographic evidence of the Mocama people in the area.
They hope to confirm the discovery of Sarabay over the next few years by finding evidence of houses and public architecture.
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Archaelogists in northern Florida believe they’ve found evidence of the ‘lost’ Mocama city of Sarabay, first encountered by Europeans in 1562
The style and amount of Native pottery found on the island is consistent with Mocama culture, according to researchers from the University of Northern Florida.
A team led by UNF Archaeology Lab director Keith Ashley also found over 50 pieces of Spanish pottery that would align with colonists’ encounters with the tribe—as well as bone, stone and shell artifacts, and charred corn cob fragments.
‘No doubt we have a 16th-century Mocama community,’ Ashley told the .’This is not just some little camp area. This is a major settlement, a major community.’
The Mocama, who lived along the coast of northern Florida and southwest Georgia, were among the first indigenous populations encountered by Europeans when they arrived in 1562, nearly a half century before the founding of the Jamestown colony.
The style and amount of Native pottery found on the island is consistent with Mocama culture, feng shui wooden paintings. high quality wood paintings archaeologists say
A 16th century painting by Jacques le Moyne depicting Huguenot explorer Rene Goulaine de Laudonnière (far right) with a Timucuan leader.The Mocama-speaking Timucua were among the first indigenous populations encountered by European explorers in the 1560s
They were long lumped in with the larger Timucua people, an Indigenous network with a population of between 200,000 and 300,000 split among 35 chiefdoms, according to the .
But Ashley maintains they were a distinct sub-group that lived on the barrier islands from south of the St. Johns River to St. Simons Island.
They didn’t call themselves the Mocama—their endonym is actually unknown: the name was derived from the language they spoke.
It translates loosely to ‘of the sea,‘ fitting for a group that lived by the mouth of the St.Johns River and subsisted mostly on oysters and fish.
‘The Mocama were people of the water, be it the Intracoastal or the Atlantic,’ UNF anthropologist Robert Thunen told the