The Discovery of Conquistador Hernando De Soto’s 1539 Encampment

Author(s): Fred White

Year: 2012


The College of Central Florida - New World Archaeology Series

Documentary Interviews with:

Dr. Jerald T. Milanich, Curator Emeritus in Archaeology of the Florida Museum of Natural History

Dr. Michele C. White, Clinical Professor University of Florida, Bioarchaeologist and Excavation Team, 1539 De Soto Project Site

Dr. Alan M. Stahl, Curator of Numismatics, Princeton University

Ethan A. White, Site Survey, Grid Layout and Excavation Team, 1539 De Soto Project Site, University of Florida Anderson Scholar, University of Florida History Honors Program and University Scholars Program

Dr. Ashley White, Clinical Professor University of Florida, Director of the Florida Archaeological Survey, Hernando de Soto Field School

A team of international historians and archaeologists are currently investigating one of the earliest known New World expedition sites in the terrestrial United States. The credit for this rare discovery rests with Dr. Ashley White, from the Governing Board of the Archaeological Institute of America, Dr. Michele White, author and bioarchaeologist and Ethan White, of Trinity Catholic History Honors.

This Florida site is considered one of the most important archaeological finds in the early history of the United States. The medieval artifacts include beautiful Murano glass and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella coins. Historians confirm are evidence of conquistador Hernando de Soto's 1539 expedition to the New World.

While excavating near the Orange Lake Hernando de Soto site Dr. White's archaeological team made another historical find. They discovered the remains of a lost Franciscan mission associated with the Timucua Native Indians. Circa 1580 Spanish priests constructed a mission in the town of Potano known to have been visited by De Soto in 1539.

The mission was first named Apula and then rebuilt in 1607 as San Buenaventura de Potano. Little was known of it until now with the discovery of the foundation of a mission church. The religious activity at the site was relocated in the early 1600s but the Spanish continued using the site for cattle ranching until the 1700s.

Cite this Record

The Discovery of Conquistador Hernando De Soto’s 1539 Encampment. Fred White. Presented at College of Central Florida, New World Archaeology Series, Ocala, FL. 2012 ( tDAR id: 391661)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.661; min lat: 29.147 ; max long: -81.7; max lat: 29.707 ;