Archaeology Work at Fort King

1953-1955 Archaeologist Wilfred T. Neill first surveyed the Fort King site in 1953 and 1954, and published his paper, The Site of Osceola’s Village in Marion County in 1955.


1968 In October of 1968, during Hurricane Gladys, a large pine tree toppled on the Fort King site exposing a large cache of over 100 whole and partial Fort King period bottles. This event spurred a renewed interest in the site and was covered by the newspapers at the time.

 

1989 and 1991 Two large archaeological surveys were completed by Bruce Piatek and William Hunt. The purpose of these studies was to locate, identify, and evaluate the Fort King site. These surveys were completed for the City of Ocala Planning Department.

 

1993-1995 After the park came under City and County ownership, several other follow up studies were completed. In 1993 Gary Ellis surveyed the tracks north of the fort, finding outbuildings that indicated the military compound may have been larger than expected. In 1995 Bruce Piatek completed a three-part report for the City of Ocala Planning Department covering the history, and the northern and southern portions of the site.

 

1999 A Fort King Archaeological Study by GARI (Gulf Archaeology Research Institute) provided enough archaeological evidence to permit the City of Ocala and Marion County to proceed with land acquisition of the southwest “McCall property” in coordination with the State of Florida. In addition, the study presented a solid case to successfully nominate the site as a National Historic Landmark. This study detailed the nature and extent of the fort footprint and structural preservation conditions across the site.


2001-2005 In 2001, the National Parks Service completed a National Historic Landmarks Nomination Survey, with the park officially becoming a National Historic Landmark in 2004. They also completed a Special Recourse Study and Environmental Impact Statement in 2005. 

2008-2009 GARI returned to Fort King to conduct archaeological testing to determine the location and condition of additional sites, structures, and features associated with the historic fort. The study produced a solid data set on known and potential archaeological components of the site, including 12 new stockade-sized post holes and 9 structural features related to the fort.


2016 GARI surveyed the site again with excavations intended to identify a boundary for reconstruction of the fort palisade walls and two blockhouses as part of a Florida State Grant to the City of Ocala. The project produced a reconstruction location that would offset the replica fort from the original footprint, ensuring archaeological resources were left intact for future studies. Several key discoveries were made – including a sizable ditch feature located in the northeast corner of the fort, evidence of two buildings and a prepared floor surface of the southeast blockhouse. This work also produced two adjacent burned in-situ posts that would have been from the first fort and which verified previous assumptions about the use of split logs versus whole loges used for the palisade walls.

 

2018 GARI provided archaeological monitoring of a new park access road. During this work, a new structure was identified. It was a small burned wooden building which produced evidence of early attempts for brickmaking by the troops during the 1837-1836 occupation. This small building may be one of the first buildings at the fort.



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