St. Simons Island, Georgia has a rich history spanning from Native Americans to Spanish Missions to the Plantation Era through today. For several days this month, UNF archeologists searched oceanfront Neptune Park for evidence of a lost Spanish mission. Archaeologists searched for the Santa Cruz y San Buenaventura de Guadalaquini Mission that was located on the south end of St. Simons Island from 1606 until 1684.
Historical documents indicate the Spanish mission was located on the south end of St. Simons Island and UNF archaeologists believe Neptune Park and adjacent lighthouse area was a prime candidate because of the deep, natural channel just off the beach, where ships could get close to land.
The archaeologists were looking for evidence of Spanish pottery, pieces of olive jars and Spanish tableware suggestive of a mission site. After digging a grid of holes, the team found no signs of the 400-year-old mission at the Neptune Park site. The dig did, however, uncover plenty of Native American pottery.
In the second half of the 16th century, Spain established religious outposts in Florida and Georgia in order to spread Christianity to native inhabitants. Today, some of the mission locations are known, while others remain lost.