Maple Leaf Shipwreck National Historic Landmark damaged by construction?

(updated August 25)

The steamboat Maple Leaf  was sunk by a Confederate mine on April 1, 1864, in the St. Johns River. This ship was under contract to the U.S. Army, and had on board the camp equipment and baggage of the 112th and 169th Regiment of New York Volunteers and the 13th Indiana Regiment en route from Folly Island, South Carolina, to Jacksonville. The ship was considered a total loss, and never salvaged. In the 1980s, archaeological exploration and excavation of a portion of the wreck was undertaken resulting in the recovery of a significant collection of Civil War artifacts that are now preserved in the archaeological collections of the State of Florida and the U.S. Army. Some of the artifacts are on exhibit through loans administered by the Florida Division of Historical Resources; others are in storage at the U.S. Army Center for Military History and will remain there until a new museum is constructed. Because of the amazing state of preservation of this wreck, and of its contents consisting of the equipment of an entire army brigade, this site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in October of 1994.

According to the National Park Service, which oversees the National Historic Landmark program, “National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are historic places that possess exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States” ( This is the highest level of designation for historic sites afforded by the United States, and comes with the presumption of the highest level of protection from damage from actions of, or permitted, by the United States.  It is one of only 45 National Historic Landmarks in Florida, and is the only Florida shipwreck or inundated archaeological site so designated. To protect this site, the State of Florida and National Park Service established a buffer zone around the actual wreck with the intent that anything proposed to happen within this zone that was subject to state or federal review would receive proper scrutiny.

Dr. Keith Holland, who was key in the discovery of the location of Maple Leaf in the 1980s and in the facilitation of its scientific study and the preservation of recovered collections, became aware of a series of communications cables that already have been placed or that are proposed to be placed within the Maple Leaf buffer zone. Because of his concern, he has taken action that has resulted in an inquiry by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, who are responsible for permitting construction in navigable waters including the vicinity of Maple Leaf. He is also facilitating a private archaeological assessment of the precise location of the previously placed cables relative to the actual wreck of Maple Leaf and, if they have crossed the actual wreck site, of the damage that may have resulted.

We are obviously very concerned that Maple Leaf shipwreck site may have been damaged as a result of laying these cables and await the results of the private archaeological assessment and the inquiry from the Advisory Council. Because we also know that this site is of importance to the general public, we desire to make available key information on the current events surrounding Maple Leaf:

  • NEW! Letter from Olsen Associates to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, August 25, 2016.
  • NEW! Letter of response from Jacksonville U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, August 19, 2016.
  • Letter from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to the Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, August 11, 2016
  • Official Notification to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation from St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, LLC, July 1, 2016
  • Technical Proposal for A Remote Sensing Survey of the Maple Leaf Site, July 6, 2016
  • Video “The Maple Leaf: A Civil War Shipwreck,” produced in conjunction with the Florida Humanities Council.

We also direct you to the website of the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society ( The Mandarin Museum is within sight of the wreck site, and this website provides a good general overview of Maple Leaf and its excavation, and also contains links to other useful web resources related to Maple Leaf.

This blog will be updated as new information or results become available.

Dr. William B. Lees, RPA
Executive Director, Florida Public Archaeology Network





In Plain Sight: State Archaeological Collections

Archaeological fieldwork involves the careful documentation and discovery of the remains of the past. Once the fieldwork is over, what happens to the artifacts? As scientists, archaeologists are obliged to carefully document and store the artifacts collected during excavations. Properly-curated archaeological collections can have great research and educational value. Ensuring secure access to collections is one of the greatest opportunities in 21st century archaeology.

Artifacts collected on Florida’s state lands and waters are curated at the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR) collections facility located on the grounds of Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. These centralized collections provide researchers and museums access to materials from throughout the state and from all periods of Florida prehistory and history, all under one roof.

The BAR currently curates over half a million groupings of artifacts ranging from tiny chevron beads to prehistoric pots and pottery sherds to large 16th century cannon. Of the artifacts cared for by BAR, over 71,000 are on loan. Some are out as research loans to institutions of higher learning, but many of the artifacts are on loan to museums across the state and country and are seen by thousands of people each year.

Numerous requests for data from our collections, or inquiries about artifacts loans come to BAR Collections professionals each year. BAR Collections has built a solid reputation among professional archaeological and museum communities by providing access to both artifacts and data. Some queries are easily answered via email or phone call, while many researchers and curators are provided direct access to the collections.

The BAR has loaned gold and silver coins and jewelry from Spanish plate fleet wrecks to venues such as the Museum of Florida History, The Museum of Natural History in New York, and the St. Augustine Treasure and Pirate Museum. State parks and educators have also used BAR Collections for hands-on educational materials. FPAN’s Destination Archaeology Resource Center displays artifacts on loan from BAR in its exhibits, as do numerous other local museums through the state. Although BAR Collections is a curation facility and not a museum, we do occasionally provide behind the scenes tours, especially during Florida Archaeology Month in March of each year.

Also in an effort to make the collections even more publicly accessible, we are excited to be currently working to develop 3D virtual images of select artifacts where internet users can virtually experience Spanish shipwreck artifacts and learn about life onboard a 17th century ship.

So, you see, the state’s artifacts are anything but hidden!

Do you know of a museum or historical society interested in borrowing artifacts for exhibit? We are here to help! Please direct them to our web site:

Marie Prentice
Senior Archaeologist
Bureau of Archaeological Research Collections

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Visitors to St. Augustine Pirate Museum viewing artifacts from the state’s collection (Photo courtesy St. Augustine Pirate Museum)

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Secretary of state Ken Detzner discusses artifacts specially selected from the State’s collection for King Felipe VI of Spain (left) during a visit commemorating the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine. Dana St. Claire, with the City of St. Augustine, looks on (Photo Courtesy Florida Department of State)

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Location of BAR artifacts on loan throughout Florida (Courtesy of Florida Department of State)



Isolated Finds 2016: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

Bills recently introduced in the Florida Legislature (House Bill 803 and its companion Senate Bill 1054) really concern me; they appear as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

This proposed legislation requires the agency charged with preservation of Florida’s non-renewable archaeological resources to issue permits allowing individuals to remove artifacts from sovereign State waters (our rivers and lakes). All that one need do is report your finds to the Division of Historical Resources within 14 days and the artifacts you have removed will become your personal property. It allows you to take home as many of these “isolated finds” as you want after you find them on or embedded in the floor of a river or lake. You are allowed to use tools to aid in their removal (the proposed law even refers to this as “excavation”). The only exclusion is that items are to be “isolated finds” and that the state can restrict collecting and excavation by providing a map of excluded sites and areas.

An image may come to mind of a father (or mother) and son (or daughter) wading along a river bank or scuba diving on a sunny Florida day marveling at Florida’s heritage and adding an arrowhead or old bottle to their prized personal collection. Look way, way beyond this, and realize that what this bill will also allow (and what at least some of those promoting its passage intend) is the wholesale mining of Florida’s heritage for commercial gain:

  • Once an artifact is removed from state waters, and its transfer to private ownership is documented through this process (title will be passed from the state to a private individual, who may or may not be a Florida resident), the value of this artifact on the antiquities market will increase exponentially. This will happen because of the existence of proof of legal title to the artifact, and because its’ precise provenance will no longer need be hidden. As recent law enforcement actions have shown, illegally recovered artifacts already have a high market value; this permit and title system will only increase this value and will make Florida the go-to place to acquire antiquities dating back as far as 10,000 years or more.
  • There is no way to verify that reported finds are really isolated (that is, not associated with other artifacts, or part of a site or shipwreck) and there is really no way to verify exactly where the artifact was found (that is, if it was excavated within an excluded area). Florida’s rivers and lakes are remote, and they are generally what divers call black-water environments (no, or very low, visibility). In these settings, it is impossible for others to know the context of the find in non-restricted waters, and it is equally easy to conceal finds found in restricted areas. Once an artifact is out of the water, in the boat, car, or home, any hope for accountability is gone.
  • The lack of accountability for new finds under the proposed legislation would make it possible for individuals to claim artifacts collected earlier in violation of Florida law to claim these as finds under the new permit system.
  • If made law, this bill would provide cover for those who use more than a trowel or hand-held tool to dig into the banks of rivers where sites are common. Once burrowed or blasted out of a riverbank, artifacts once part of an intact site can be picked up and touted to be “isolated finds.” What happens under water, stays underwater; that is, it is very hard for anyone to see what is, indeed, going on.
  • This bill presumes the moral integrity and honesty of those who would take advantage of its provisions. Recent law enforcement actions in Florida have demonstrated that many who will certainly take advantage of this law are not honest and have no integrity; this law will give similar people the cover they need to collect with impunity, and they will take advantage of it to steal everything we have for their own personal gain.
  • While some honest collectors would certainly follow the rules and be diligent in reporting their finds, the last time Florida tried to implement an isolated finds policy (attempted between 1994-2005), only 22 percent of people who land managers observed collecting artifacts reported them. This dismal failure proved a lesson in how this sort of unenforceable program results in loss of artifacts, loss of information, and loss of our heritage.

The state of Florida has long been a leader in preserving what is uniquely ours in terms of environment, culture, and heritage. The proposed legislation would move the state backwards, and literally give away our cultural heritage from beneath the State’s waters. It will give our heritage away to those who will systematically come to Florida, scour and excavate our rivers and lakes for artifacts, and then sell the artifacts for appreciable personal financial gain. The program described in this proposed legislation will further deliver an unintended message that the Legislature does not take seriously its commitment to preservation of our publicly-owned lands and waters and the archaeological sites contained therein.

The artifacts in Florida’s waters are not unimportant—they are part of our irreplaceable heritage. These artifacts and the sites they come from hold a story about our heritage that cannot properly be told by an unenforceable isolated finds program that mostly benefits those who care little about the big picture of Florida heritage.

For more information on Florida’s longstanding commitment to the preservation of the State’s archaeological heritage, and to the serious threat to it posed by large-scale looting of our publicly-owned sites, I refer you to an excellent report recently prepared for the Legislature, Feasibility Study on a One-Time Artifact Amnesty Program. For more insight into the issues related to the proposed Isolated Finds Program, I also refer you to a 2013 blog post by Della Scott-Ireton on a Citizen Archaeology Permit (aka Isolated Finds Program) and to the State of Florida’s report on the failed Isolated Finds Program. For more information on these bills, see FPAN’s page on Protecting Artifacts on State Lands.

If you look close enough, you can see the wolf.

William B. Lees, PhD, RPA
Executive Director
Florida Public Archaeology Network



Collectors and Archaeologists working together: discovery of Don Tristan de Luna’s Florida settlement of 1559

The University of West Florida (UWF) Division of Anthropology and Archaeology announced today (December 17, 2015) the discovery of the site of the  ill-fated settlement of Don Tristan de Luna y Arrellano, dating from 1559. This site had eluded archaeologists for decades, but its location was confirmed based on artifacts found by a local historian and collector, and reported to the University. The collector and University archaeologists now form a team planning the scientific investigation of one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Florida and the United States.

The Luna expedition was the first well-funded and provisioned attempt to establish a European settlement in North America. The endeavor quickly encountered problems when, shortly after arriving in Pensacola Bay, half of Luna’s fleet was sunk by a hurricane. Despite losing many of their provisions in the storm, the settlement persisted for two years before it was finally abandoned. Two of Luna’s ships have been discovered–one in 1992 by the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research and one in 2006 by UWF–but the location of the land settlement remained unknown.

This fall, a Pensacola collector happened upon some European artifacts that he believed dated to the 16th century and might be evidence for Luna’s failed settlement. He could have kept these for himself, or attempted to profit by recovering others for sale on the antiquities market. Instead, he took his finds to the University’s Archaeology Institute laboratory for identification, and offered to share the location of these finds and to help in whatever way he could with the further study of this site.

There are those who decry the failure of archaeologists to work with collectors. Archaeologists have, in fact, always worked with collectors, and this is just the latest example of this collaboration and its importance for archaeological inquiry. Not all collectors are willing to share information, and are more interested in possession or sale of found artifacts. The historian/collector who discovered the site of Luna’s settlement was, in fact, more interested in ensuring that the story of this settlement is told through careful archaeological study. He knows the artifacts have a story to tell that is not fully recorded in historical documents, and that can only be told through careful scientific study. Being a part of that is, for some, sufficient reward.

William B. Lees, PhD, RPA
Executive Director
Florida Public Archaeology Network



Artifact Amnesty Program for Florida?

The Florida Legislature, in the 2015-2016 General Appropriations Act, has charged the Florida Division of Historical Resources (DHR) with the task of “preparing a study of the feasibility of implementing a one-time amnesty program of limited duration for persons who possess specimens, objects, or materials of historical or archaeological value found on land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority” ( As part of their feasibility study, they are seeking public input via an on-line survey which asks five questions:

  1. Did you know that it is illegal to remove, without authorization, any specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority?
  2. Do you think it should be illegal to remove, without authorization, any specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority?
  3. Do you support the implementation of a one-time amnesty program of limited duration for persons who possess specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value collected from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority?
  4. If you were in possession of any specimens, objects or material of historical or archaeological value from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority, would you return them during an amnesty program?
  5. Do you think other people would participate in an amnesty program?
  6. Please list the positive and/or negative impacts you feel that an amnesty program could potentially have on the stakeholders and historic resources of the state.

From the outset it is important to understand that this is a feasibility study for a proposal that is at best only vaguely defined. From the survey questions, it is possible to presume that a requirement of this program would be that in order to receive amnesty any illegally acquired items would be turned over to the state, but this is an assumption. Even if artifacts are turned over, how about information on the location of the find and other details that would help to establish as much about the original context as possible?

In general, we do not see how a proposal for Artifact Amnesty will help the preservation of archaeological sites that exist on land owned by the State of Florida for the public benefit. We do not believe it will do anything to improve the protection of archaeological sites in Florida.

In opposing artifact amnesty for public lands and waters, we refer to, and express our support for the appropriateness and wisdom of the legislative intent expressed in Florida Statutes 267.14, “It is hereby declared to be the public policy of the state to preserve archaeological sites and objects of antiquity for the public benefit and to limit exploration, excavation, and collection of such matters to qualified persons and educational institutions possessing the requisite skills and purpose to add to the general store of knowledge concerning history, archaeology, and anthropology.” While this intent refers to all of Florida, it is particularly important for our public lands and waters which protect for the future what is uniquely Florida in terms of our natural environment as well as the remains of our diverse and unique heritage.

Our public lands and waters help us to ensure that the animals and plants, forests and wetlands, and springs and waterways that have always been a part of Florida will still exist and be accessible to the public for countless generations to come. Imbedded and submerged on these same lands are the remains of those who have come before. These remains are not just individual curiosities, they are complex archaeological sites where people lived, where they are buried, and where they have made their livings hundreds and thousands of years ago. Current law appropriately supports the public ownership of archaeological sites on public lands and waters and appropriately recognizes the value of their preservation for future scientific study by appropriately trained professionals.

Preservation of archaeological sites on public lands is all the more critical because of the rapid development of the State’s privately-held lands. Over the last several decades, development of our coastlines for residences, hotels, and businesses, and construction of highways, airports, and other needed infrastructure, has resulted in the wholesale destruction and loss of many thousands of archaeological sites, often without any record or study.

In opposing creation of an artifact amnesty program, which we presume would be accompanied by forfeiture of illegally obtained Florida artifacts and disclosure of their find locations, we believe such a program would:

  • Send a message that the Legislature does not take seriously its commitment to preservation of our publicly-owned lands and waters and the archaeological sites contained therein.
  • Not be taken seriously by many, including those who have systematically looted sites on public lands and waters.
  • Not prevent future collecting or looting of archaeological sites on public lands or waters.
  • Confuse rather than clarify the public understanding of law and regulation that protect archaeological sites and materials in Florida.
  • Provide rationale for calls to reinstate the failed Isolated Finds Program, which we also oppose (see

Florida has always been a leader in state-level historic and archaeological preservation and its current policies are consistent with an international recognition of the importance of preserving the archaeological remains of our cultural heritage for the future public benefit. Regardless of how it might be constructed, we believe any artifact amnesty program would represent a retreat from this position of leadership.

If we forgive those who obtained artifacts illegally from public lands and waters in Florida, we fear that this will set the stage for a push to just make it legal to collect on these lands through a program such as the former Isolated Finds Program, or the recently proposed Citizen Archaeology Permit which we believe is also a bad idea for Florida’s irreplaceable archaeological heritage (see Della Scott-Ireton’s blog on CAP).

We encourage anyone who has interest in the proposal to establish an Artifact Amnesty Program in Florida to provide DHR with your input through response to their on-line survey, which closes September 4, or through a letter or call to Division Director Rob Bendus, R.A. Gray Building, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250, Phone: 850.245.6300., or via email to

William B. Lees, PhD, RPA
Executive Director
Florida Public Archaeology Network



FPAN Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Signing of MOA with DHR

On July 1, 2005, a public signing ceremony was held in downtown Pensacola near ongoing archaeological excavations being conducted by the University of West Florida UWF). Gathered were officials with UWF and the Florida Division of Historical Resources (DHR); the document they signed was the a Memorandum of Agreement between these two agencies that defined the operation of the Florida Public Archaeology Network. On that same date, legislative appropriations to the UWF for the operation of FPAN were available.

Signing of FPAN MOA July 1 2005 downtown Pensacola

Signing if the FPAN MOA in downtown Pensacola on July 1, 2005. Seated L to R are State Archaeologist Dr. Ryan Wheeler, DHR Director Fred Gaske, Assistant Secretary of State Candice Crawford, and UWF President Dr. John Cavanaugh. Standing L to R are Pensacola Archaeological Society President John Crane and Department of State Legislative Affairs Director Rivers Buford III  At the podium is Dr. Judy Bense (UWF).

What culminated in the July 1 signing ceremony took several years to develop. Because of the popularity and success of public archaeology conducted by UWF, in 2002 the local Northwest Florida legislative delegation asked Dr. Judy Bense, then Director of the Archaeology Institute and Chair of the Anthropology Department, if there was a state-level project she thought worthy of development.  Dr. Bense described the state-wide network of public archaeology centers that she had originally pitched to Secretary of State Katherine Harris in 1999.  In 2003 a formal proposal for a statewide network of public archaeology centers was prepared by Dr. Bense in conjunction with the Florida Division of Historical Resources and legislative staff.

Legislation was drafted in 2004 to establish a “Florida network of public archaeology centers to help stem the rapid deterioration of this state’s buried past and to expand public interest in archaeology” (Chapter 267.145, Florida Statutes).  After passage of this enabling legislation in 2004, UWF President John Cavanaugh provided funds to plan and develop the Network, and appointed a Steering Committee to oversee this work.  Designed to achieve broad representation of Florida and outside representation from leaders in public archaeology and the administration of university-based archaeological programs, the Steering Committee consisted of Marion Almy (Archaeological Consultants, Inc.), Elizabeth Benchley (UWF), Judy Bense (UWF), Bob Carr (Archaeological and Historical Conservancy), Gregory Cook (UWF), Hester Davis (University of Arkansas), Thomas Eubanks (Louisiana State Archaeologist, Division of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism), Lynne Goldstein (Michigan State University), Bill Marquardt (University of Florida), Jim Miller (Consultant and former State Archaeologist, Tallahassee), Sheila Stewart (Florida Anthropological Society), Brent Weisman (University of South Florida), and Ryan Wheeler (State Archaeologist, Florida Division of Historical Resources).

FPAN Steering Committee, University of West Florida, Pensacola 2005

FPAN Steering Committee, University of West Florida, Pensacola 2005. Front row, L to R: Bob Carr, Hester Davis, Elizabeth Benchley, Lynne Goldstein, Marion Almy, Brent Weisman. Back row, L to R: Greg Cook, Ryan Wheeler, Sheila Stewart, Judy Bense, Jim Miller, Bill Marquardt, Tom Eubanks.

During Fiscal Year 2004-2005, the Steering Committee drafted a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Florida Department of State and the University of West Florida providing for the creation and operation of the Network. The committee met in Pensacola in December of 2005 to discuss the mission and scope of the network, and how it might be structured. A draft MOA was prepared by State Archaeologist Ryan Wheeler based on these discussions, and this was reviewed during a second meeting held in  early February in Tampa at the University of South Florida.

The Steering Committee carefully crafted the MOA to create a state-wide program administered by the University of West Florida.  In doing so they considered a number of broad issues related to the creation of a new state-wide archaeology program in Florida.  The Committee was resolute that the new Network would be collaborative with local programs operating in different regions of the state.  This regional involvement was to be achieved through the operation of regional public archaeology centers by host institutions contracted by UWF to deliver the FPAN program within a specific region.  The hosts provide space and related infrastructure support and via their hosting contract with UWF received funds to hire staff and to support travel and programming.

The Steering Committee was also insistent that FPAN not duplicate or compete with other archaeological program such as that of the Florida Anthropological Society and Florida Archaeological Council, that it would not be involved with enforcement of regulation or law, and that it would not conduct work that is required by Federal, State, or local preservation programs.  These concerns were met by defining the goals for FPAN that focused on public outreach, assistance to local governments, and assistance to DHR.

What started as a grand experiment has matured into a well established and respected organization recognized in 2015 by the Society for Historical Archaeology with their Daniel G. Roberts Award for Excellence in Public Historical Archaeology.

Happy 10th Birthday, FPAN!



The Confederate Flag and Florida’s Civil War Heritage Landscape

Former State Historic Preservation Officer Fred Gaske and I have been watching with interest the nation’s – and Florida’s – reaction to the display of the Confederate Battle Flag on public property following the shocking murders in Charleston on June 17.  The Battle Flag became part of the narrative of the shootings because of an association of the alleged shooter with this Confederate symbol, as well as by the presence of a Confederate Battle Flag flying on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse where the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a victim of the shooting, served as Senator for the past 19 years (see photo).


Confederate Battle Flag behind the Confederate monument erected in 1879 to honor “South Carolina’s Dead of the Confederate Army,” on the grounds of the SC Statehouse that can be seen in the background (Photo by William Lees, March 2014).

Fred and I authored the book Recalling Deeds Immortal, Florida Monuments to the Civil War in 2014 (University Press of Florida). Although not the focus of our book, we do discuss a growing reaction against Confederate symbols, including the Battle Flag, due to their appropriation by  a variety of radical and hate groups. The recent push-back against these symbols has resulted in actions such as that taken by the Duval County, Florida, School Board to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School last year. Forrest is a controversial Confederate general, accused of atrocities against Union African American soldiers, and was a founder to the KKK. In Pensacola in 2000, Confederate Battle Flags flown in “City of Five Flags” displays were replaced with the Confederate first National Flag because of the association of the Battle Flag with messages of hate. Our interest in the current discussion about Confederate Symbols is not so much the flag, but Civil War monuments that were the subject of our book.

In our conclusions, we express our concerns that,

“…a growing sentiment … rejects the narrative of the Lost Cause and sees symbols of the Confederacy – including Confederate monuments – as representing the attempt to uphold a social contract originally based on slavery. This is certainly the result of years of appropriation of Confederate symbols by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and more recently by groups that are radicalizing these symbols in other ways. Given the original intent of many Confederate monuments to vindicate the South for actions that many segments of our modern society would say cannot be vindicated, it is likely that discontent with the presence of these symbols of the Confederacy will continue to increase and that the legitimacy of Confederate monuments as part of the modern public landscape will continue to be questioned. While we believe this will be the case, we also believe it would be unfortunate to see monuments relocated, especially those that remain in their original settings. We believe it would be even worse to dismantle monuments for storage or disposal. These are part of the historic landscapes of our communities, and while they may become controversial, that controversy can, if approached properly, be turned into the proverbial teaching moment.” [page 304, italics added]

In recent days, there have been Confederate flags lowered at many places across Florida, including some that have flown on flagpoles erected near or in association with Confederate monuments. The mayor of Pensacola, for example, has now ordered all Confederate flags flown over city property be removed. There have also been petitions started for the removal of Confederate monuments located on public property, such as the monument in Orlando’s Lake Eola park (see photos).

Figure 2 Orlando

Confederate monument in its original location within the intersection of Central Boulevard and Main (Magnolia) Street, Orlando. It was moved to Lake Eola Park in 1917 because it became a traffic hazard.

Figure 2.32 Orlando Lake Eola Lees photo

Confederate monument at its current location in Lake Eola Park, Orlando (photo by William Lees)

We believe these monuments should be preserved in the public places where they were erected, and in a few cases where they have been moved. We believe it is essential, however, that these Confederate monuments be reinterpreted or contextualized so that the public can learn what they are, who erected them and why, and how their original purpose fits or does not fit  into our modern world some 150 years after the end of the Civil War. To be clear, these monuments do not all have the same history or carry the same message, so any reinterpretation would vary from monument to monument.  Some are simple memorials to the fallen dead, like the oldest Confederate monument in Florida, erected in 1871 and now on the grounds of the Walton County courthouse in DeFuniak Springs (see photo). Others carry a strongly worded message of Confederate vindication, such as the 1908 Confederate monument now located in Veterans Park in Ocala (see photo). All could benefit, and become productive “members of society,” with added interpretation. An interpretive wayside placed by each of these monuments would turn them into a lesson on the aftermath of the Civil War that, as much as the war itself, continues to affect who we are today as a nation.

Figure 0.1 Walton

Monument to the Confederate Dead of Walton County at its original location at Eucheeanna in about 1916 (photo courtesy Mark Curenton).


Figure 2.23 Ocala Lees photo

Monument to the “Heroes of the Confederacy” at its current location in Veterans Memorial Park, Ocala (photo by William Lees).

A recent article in the Atlantic by California State University, Fresno historians Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts (June 25, 2015) makes a similar case in considering whether Confederate flags and Confederate monuments deserve different treatment. They find that “Historical monuments are interpretations of one era but also artifacts of another. Confederate and proslavery memorials embody, even perpetuate, deeply flawed narratives of the Old South and the Civil War. Yet they also reveal essential truths about the time during which they were erected.”  After exploring the difficulty these monuments pose for our 21st century sensibilities, they conclude as follows, “If [Confederate monuments] make the public uneasy, this is because this past is uncomfortable. Taking down Confederate flags, but allowing properly contextualized Confederate monuments to stand, strikes the right balance between promoting a complete picture of the past and respecting the needs of the present.”

Mary Niall Mitchell,  Ethel & Herman L. Midlo Chair in New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans (UNO), and Amber Nicholson, doctoral candidate in Urban Studies at UNO, make a similar case for Confederate Monuments in the Crescent City (Published in The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA, June 27, 2015). They propose that, “Rather than remove these monuments from sight, as some have proposed, we ought to do what is much more difficult: reimagine these symbols of the Confederacy in a public way to reflect the totality of the Civil War and its place in the city’s history….The [monument] should not be enclosed in a museum, but instead fully explained and countered with more inclusive representations of the Civil War’s meaning and its legacies. What we cannot continue to do is allow them to stand unanswered, with their claims to the memory of the Civil War uncontested.” Echoed by Kytle and Roberts and by the conclusion to our 2014 book on Florida monuments, they propose the creation and placement of  ”…well-researched markers that put these monuments in proper historical context.”

This approach is not unlike that taken years ago by the National Park Service to contextualize the monument to Heyward Shepherd, also known as the “Faithful Slave Memorial,”  that was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1931. Shepherd was apparently killed during John Brown’s aborted 1859 attempt to start a slave revolt, and the Shepherd monument spurred controversy from the day it was erected. Because of its controversial message, the Park Service initially covered the monument but agreed to again allow its display only after placement of a thoroughly researched companion wayside providing proper historical context.

Confederate monuments were originally placed in public places where they would be encountered on a daily basis and their message conveyed to current and future generations. These amazing pieces of well-crafted outdoor sculpture still attract attention, are an important part of our heritage landscape, and should, in my opinion, remain. Their message requires a make-over, which can  be done with additional, thoughtfully crafted companion signage. Properly contextualized, Confederate monuments can continue to serve us as messenger about a war, and its aftermath, that haunts this nation to this day.

William B. Lees, PhD, RPA
Executive Director
Florida Public Archaeology Network





Dr. Della Scott-Ireton honored with 2015 Senator Bob Williams Award

FPAN Associate Director Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, RPA, has been awarded one of Florida’s highest honors in Historic Preservation: the 2015 Senator Bob Williams Award. It was presented to her at the annual Florida Heritage Awards ceremony in Tallahassee on March 11, 2015.

The award is named for the Senator Bob Williams, an individual who served as Florida’s first State Historic Preservation Officer. The Williams Award recognizes those public employees whose service is so exceptional that it has changed the course of historic preservation in Florida. In the letter informing her of the award, Secretary of State Ken Detzner detailed the rational for bestowing the 2015 award on Della,

“Throughout your career your dedication to the preservation of submerged cultural resources in Florida has immeasurably increased public awareness of the significance of these fragile and unique resources. The effects of your legacy of preservation will be felt for generations to come.”

Watch the video presentation prepared by the Department of State for the awards ceremony.

Della graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Historical Archaeology. She also holds a Master’s in International Relations from Troy University, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Florida State University. Della is certified as a Scuba Instructor with the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). She is a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA).

In the presentation of this award, Della was recognized for twenty years of work in raising public awareness of Florida’s underwater cultural heritage. Notable has been her  work on the Pensacola Shipwreck Survey, which led to discovery of shipwrecks from the  ill-fated 1559 fleet of Don Tristan de Luna, and work as an Underwater Archaeologist with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR) where she expanded the number of Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves. Della left BAR in 2006 to join FPAN as the Public Archaeologist in the Coordinating Center. Before being named as Associate Director, she developed and directed the Northwest and North Central Regional Centers of FPAN.

At FPAN, Della has developed the Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar (HADS) and the Submerged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship (SSEAS) programs, both aimed at increasing respect for the Underwater Cultural Heritage. HADS focuses on training the professionals who train scuba divers on the value of archaeological heritage and stewardship, and SSEAS takes a similar message directly to recreational divers with an interest in heritage.

Della at work.

Della at work.

Della’s professional contribution these days goes well beyond her daily work at FPAN. She was chair of the 2010 Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology at Amelia Island, Florida, has recently served on the SHA Board of Directors, and currently serves SHA as Conference Coordinator. She has also served on the board of the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology. She has lectured and consulted on the preservation and interpretation of the Underwater Cultural Heritage both nationally and internationally, and sits on a number of national and international advisory boards.

Della’s success is in no small measure a result of her clear vision, focus, and dedication, but is also enabled by her collegial nature and professional demeanor. FPAN is indeed fortunate to have Della as part of our leadership!

William B. Lees, PhD, RPA
Executive Director
Florida Public Archaeology Network


FPAN receives recognition by Society for Historical Archaeology

At the 48th annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, convened in Seattle, the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) presented FPAN with its Daniel G. Roberts Award for Excellence in Public Historical Archaeology. Established in 2011 and first presented in 2012, this award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in public historical archaeology by individuals, educational institutions, for-profit firms or organizations, museums, government agencies, private sponsors, or projects. It was presented at the SHA awards banquet and ceremony along with other Society’s top-tier awards.

Roberts Award presented to FPAN

Roberts Award presented to FPAN

FPAN was nominated for this award by Irina Sorset of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Amanda Evans of TESLA Offshore. In their nomination, Sorset and Evans noted that “FPAN has created programming focused on Florida’s long and diverse archaeological past, and while programs center on the state’s archaeological heritage, FPAN is reaching a global audience. Through an impressive array of innovative programs and projects focused on historical archaeology, FPAN is creating heritage awareness and fostering stewardship among Florida students and residents, as well as tourists. In fact, through internet-based programming, FPAN is able to reach an audience that may never visit Florida but appreciates its heritage.” Programs highlighted in the nomination were the Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar (HADS), Coquina Queries project, Cemeteries Resources Protection Training (CRPT), Submerged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship program (SSEAS), Archaeology Works program, Unearthing Florida public radio program, videos and podcasts, and a variety of historical archaeology programs aimed at assisting our partners with interpretation of archaeological sites.

Presentation of  Roberts Award to FPAN. L to R: Della Scott-Ireton (FPAN), Charles Ewen (SHA President), Teresita Majewski (SHA Awards Chair), Amanda Evans (Nominator), William Lees (FPAN), Sarah Miller (FPAN)

Presentation of Roberts Award to FPAN. L to R: Della Scott-Ireton (FPAN), Charles Ewen (SHA President), Teresita Majewski (SHA Awards Chair), Amanda Evans (Nominator), William Lees (FPAN), Sarah Miller (FPAN)

A number of FPAN staff, board members, and advisors were present at the conference and the awards ceremony. Executive Director William Lees, Associate Director Della Scott-Ireton, and Director of the Northeast and East Central Regions Sarah Miller received the award for FPAN from SHA President Charles Ewen and Awards Chair Teresita Majewski after remarks were made by Amanda Evans.