Artifacts and Archaeology from the Conquistador Hernando De Soto’s Potano Encampment and the Lost Franciscan Mission

Author(s): Fred White

Year: 2016


The historical site identified by the Florida Department of State, Bureau of Archaeological Research as Smithsonian Trinomial 8AAMR03538 was the location of one of Hernando de Soto’s early camps during the 1539 entrada and was in later use during the sixteen and seventeenth century Spanish mission and ranching periods. This previously unknown First Spanish Cultural Period site named the White Ranch / De Soto site is located between Ocala and Gainesville, Florida on the wetlands associated with Orange Lake. Archaeological and documentary evidence confirms that this First Spanish mission period structure was a mission visita (mission without a resident priest) known as Apula and was understood to have been established in the late sixteenth century in the town of Potano known to have been visited by Hernando de Soto in 1539. The artifact assemblage from the mission period structure brings the conclusion that 8AAMR03538 was also a location of religious activities associated with the Franciscan mission of San Buenaventura de Potano, that was relocated a short distance along the lake shore. This investigation contains a systemic analysis of the artifacts from the White Ranch / De Soto site 8AAMR03538 recovered between 2005 and 2013. The goal of this study and results are to obtain information about the Aboriginal inhabitants and the following European occupations. Detailed field notes, ground truth studies performed with penetrating radar, magnetic detection and geographic information systems were used to record and analyze the excavation site and its geospatial relationships. This new information offers significant evidence and documentation confirming that the site is where Hernando de Soto came to the area of Potano on August 12th 1539. His army began camping just to the south of this location from August 11th to August 22nd and then marched north through Potano to join him on the entrada at Aguacaleyquen. The ceramic and coin assemblages from the site strongly prove the visitation by De Soto and the later location for a Franciscan visita and ranch.

Cite this Record

Artifacts and Archaeology from the Conquistador Hernando De Soto’s Potano Encampment and the Lost Franciscan Mission. Fred White. International Journal of Archaeology. 4 (4): 44-53. 2016 ( tDAR id: 406109)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.286; min lat: 29.344 ; max long: -82.018; max lat: 29.553 ;