First Encounters:
Spanish Explorations in the Caribbean and the United States, 1492-1570

Edited by Jerald T. Milanich and Susan Milbrath

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"An excellent paradigm of what historical archaeology and history have to offer in illuminating out past. Skillfully edited…Milanich and Milbrath have impressively skimmed the cream of the past decade of research."--Bruce D. Smith, Smithsonian Institution

Drawing on the most recent historical and archaeological research, First Encounters describes the period of early Spanish contact with New World peoples. This series of highly readable essays reports original research and investigations mounted over the last ten years, a decade of remarkable breakthroughs in our knowledge about significant events in the first decades after 1492.

In nontechnical language the authors invite us to play Watson to their Sherlockian investigations. We are made privy to the modus operandi of anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians as they assemble clues from historic documents, topographic features, and excavated artifacts to map out the neighborhood boundaries of Puerto Real, Hispaniola, abandoned in 1578, or to establish which sites in the southeast United States can legitimately claim that “de Soto slept here.” We learn how Columbus’s ship Niña must have smelled on her 1498 voyage, how the discovery of a pig mandible helped nail down the site of Anhaica, de Soto’s 1539-1540 winter camp.

Over 150 illustrations of rare artifacts and an extensive bibliography enrich this entertaining and informative volume, which introduces the Columbus Quincentenary Series, a scholarly celebration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyages.

Jerald T. Milanich is curator and Susan Milbrath assistant curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

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