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Orange Park man digs into St. Augustine’s past

Phillips part of archeology project

Zeibab Faraj For Clay Today
Posted 12/31/69

ORANGE PARK – Early on summer mornings, photographer Robert Phillips set out to work with professors Dr. Lisa Lee and Dr. James Davidson researching fossils and remnants in an archelogy dig in St. …

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Orange Park man digs into St. Augustine’s past

Phillips part of archeology project


Posted

ORANGE PARK – Early on summer mornings, photographer Robert Phillips set out to work with professors Dr. Lisa Lee and Dr. James Davidson researching fossils and remnants in an archelogy dig in St. Augustine. His job seemed simple: take photographs of the work that the scientists had found.

However, Phillips more than loved the experience as the thrill of discovery combined with his love of photography made the long summer days melt away.
Phillips described the experience as “interesting and full of hard work. His routine consisted of waking up at around 5 a.m., packing his equipment into a truck, taking the hour-long trip from Orange Park to the site in St. Augustine, then lugging the equipment into a boat, and finally, trying to make sense of what the team of professors and students were finding.
He said the scientists were “determined” to figure out the “world back then… what it was truly like” through the artifacts they would discover.
“We lived off of Gatorade and beef jerky, but we loved it,” Phillips said.

The team found various objects, like pieces of glass, metals, porcelain, musket balls, other weapons and even glass watches. To Phillips, the objects weren’t fascinating, but rather the “stories each [object] had to offer.” He said taking pictures of these specimens and working with the archeologists made him understand the “small world that was around.”
He loved visualizing and understanding what society was like back then and comparing it to conditions today. In his opinion, the most beautiful pieces the team found were Spanish pottery pieces as they contrasted the English pottery pieces, which he described as “different in patterns but similar in function,” which he explained is due to “human nature.”
“We use the same item to express ourselves differently,” Phillips said.

Phillips enjoyed watching the tenacious scientists explore and figure out the mysteries each object holds. Moreover, he enjoyed the “mystery” and constant growth of the field of archaeology as he explained that the objects are “still being analyzed. There is a lot that we still do not know, but that is the beauty of the archelogy… it is a story within itself,” he said.

He hopes that in the future, more young people will get involved in this fascinating field.