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UNF archeological team uncovers artifacts from lost indigenous town

Dr. Keith Ashley, an archeologist, says the majority of Jacksonville's history is indigenous.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The University of North Florida is digging up the past in Jacksonville's Big Talbot Island State Park. Its archeology lab found a lost indigenous town known as Sarabay. 

It was home to the first indigenous population before Europeans arrived. Experts believe the site dates back approximately from 1580 to 1620. 

Dr. Keith Ashley, an archeologist with UNF, says the site was discovered during the 90s. 

"This is very cool," Dr. Ashley smirked. 

Their findings lead to them to believe they're in the heart of the Sarabay, or downtown. So far, the team dug up artifacts such as: indigenous pottery, bone and shell tools and a few stone arrowheads. Ashley said the land was occupied by Mocama speaking Timucua Natives. UNF said it first found artifacts and building posts that confirmed the location of Sarabay in 2020.

In the last four summers, Dr. Ashley and his team of students uncover as much as they can. Collected items will be analyzed and shipped to Tallahassee for storage. To Dr. Ashley, residents should know finding generational artifacts is acknowledging a people who called this land home before it was known as the First Coast. 

"Jacksonville's history actually goes back 10,000-12,000 years before that. 98% of Jacksonville's history is indigenous history," Ashley said. "I think it's really important to learn that there's this great dynamic and wonderful history prior to Europeans arriving." 

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