Work is slow and complicated because — as the mission was founded about 1627 and likely lasted until the Timucuan Rebellion of 1656 — nothing remains of the 350-year-old site save for tiny object fragments and discolored soil. These indicate where structural posts and other building features were located.
Despite these difficulties, Boyer is combining his archaeological finds with an analysis of the few surviving documents from the period to form a fascinating reconstruction of the Acuera culture worthy of a “CSI” episode.
“Unlike the other Timucua, who were Catholicized, these people were not,” Boyer said. Despite having a mission within their village for up to three decades, “they stayed true to their traditional ways.”
“There is a record from the 1640s where Governor Ruiz de Salazar sent a soldier from the St. Augustine garrison to arrest a shaman among the Acuera. The record suggests this shaman had a pretty substantial following; so even while the mission was here, you had religious leaders who were practicing openly,” he said.