I wanted to take a few minutes and write a quick post to point out a new paper about the geophysical work that's going on at Santa Elena. Lasting from 1566 to 1587, the Spanish colony of Santa Elena was one of the earliest European settlements in the New World. The colony was placed on the same location as the earlier (1562) French outpost of Charlesfort. Although the site has been investigated archaeological for decades, only recently was one of the "missing" Spanish forts (San Marcos I) located. The story of the discovery of San Marcos I has gotten significant coverage in the regional media (e.g., here and here), and now an open-access paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science ("A Preliminary Exploration of Santa Elena's Sixteenth Century Colonial Landscape through Shallow Geophysics" by Victor D. Thompson, Chester B. DePratter, and Amanda D. Roberts Thompson) is available for those wanting more detail.
Santa Elena is a unique site for what it can tell us about early European activities and interactions in the New World. Thompson et al. (page 186) describe Santa Elena as ""ground zero" for colonial entanglements" in the mid-sixteenth century in what was later to become the United States:
". . . it was more than simply an outpost of a colonial power; it was an attempt to bring Spanish ideals and values to this portion of the New World. Over the two decades of its occupation, its inhabitants transformed this location into a European town replete with a concejo (city government), soldiers, tailors, Jesuits priests, potters, and money lenders, among others (see Lyon, 1984).
The occupation of Santa Elena did not occur in a vacuum,but rather amidst the large Native polities of the Orista and other groups that regularly interacted with the ﬂedgling capital. In addition,Santa Elena was also embedded within a world system of global politics and its concomitant struggles to make claims and control resources in their expanding exploration and conquest (see Lyon,1984;Hoffman,1990,2001)."