Conquistador’s Wake

Tracking the Legacy of Hernando de Soto in the Indigenous Southeast

Title Details

Pages: 256

Illustrations: 62 b&w and color images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/15/2020

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5637-2

List Price: $29.95


Pub Date: 01/15/2020

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5635-8

List Price: $99.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Fernbank

Conquistador’s Wake

Tracking the Legacy of Hernando de Soto in the Indigenous Southeast

New insights on Native Americans and their interaction with the first Europeans in southern Georgia

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

The focus of Conquistador’s Wake is a decade-long archaeological project undertaken at a place now known as the Glass Site, located in Telfair County, Georgia. This spot, near the town of McRae, Georgia, offers clues that place Hernando de Soto in Georgia via a different route than previously thought by historians and archaeologists.

Rare glass beads—some of the only examples found outside Florida—are among the rich body of evidence signaling Spanish interaction with the Native Americans along the Ocmulgee River. An unusual number and variety of metal and glass artifacts, identified by their distinct patterns and limited production, are the “calling cards” of Soto and other early explorers.

As a meditation on both the production of knowledge and the implications of findings at the Glass Site, Conquistador’s Wake challenges conventional wisdom surrounding the path of Soto through Georgia and casts new light on the nature of Native American societies then residing in southern Georgia. It also provides an insider’s view of how archaeology works and why it matters.

Through his research, Dennis Blanton sets out to explain the outcome of one of Georgia’s, and the region’s, most important archaeological projects of recent years. He tells at the same time a highly personal story, from the perspective of the lead archaeologist, about the realities of the research process, from initial problem formulation to the demands of fieldwork, the collaborative process, data interpretation, and scholarly tribalism.

Like the careful and conscientious scientist that he obviously is, Blanton followed the facts where they led, and he shares his odyssey in this absorbing account. . . . No doubt Conquistador’s Wake will stimulate much further research, argument, and archaeological field work.

—John S. Sledge, The Alabama Review

Blanton’s report will become a model for popularizing archaeology.

—Marvin T. Smith, American Antiquity

Told in an engaging style that reads more like a novel that a treatise, it will excite arm-chair archaeologists and fascinate professionals as well.

—American Archaeology

Blanton does an excellent and thorough job of bringing the reader into the processes, rhythms, in-the-moment decision-making, challenges, and exhilarations of archaeological fieldwork and research.

—Tony Boudreaux, H-Net Reviews

Scholars should find Conquistador's Wake provocative and illuminating for its contributions to archaeology and history. Its warmth and frankness should help it reach a larger audience, some of whom will undoubtedly ask different questions, examine currently unknown sites and evidence, and, as a result, follow new paths into the past

—Matthew Jennings, Journal of Southern History


James Mooney Award, Southern Anthropological Society

About the Author/Editor

DENNIS B. BLANTON is an associate professor of anthropology at James Madison University. Previously, he was the curator of Native American archaeology at Fernbank Museum of Natural History and has twice been president of the Society for Georgia Archaeology. He is also the coeditor of Indian and European Contact in Context: The Mid-Atlantic Region.