Common Name: White-tail deer
Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus
Deer was one of the few native (endemic) mammals eaten by San Luis residents. Not only was the meat consumed, but deer bones and antlers were frequently fashioned into tools, sinew was used for lashing, and the hides were made into containers, clothing, blankets, and served other purposes.
"The clothing of the men of this province and of those who are neighbors to it is one single deerskin, very soft, not tanned, but rubbed between their hands with their fingernails, which they never cut."
Fray Andrés de San Miguel 1595
Animal Used at Mission San Luis
The study of plant and animals from sites (ethnobotany and zooarchaeology, respectively) is one of the most illuminating aspects of archaeological research. It can reveal details about past environments, resources, settlement patterns, agricultural practices, architecture, social life, and diet unavailable from other types of data.
Since plant remains are so fragile and often difficult to see, we have limited their display to a static exhibit case format (see "Apalachee Life"). However, we have selected some animal bones found at Mission San Luis, along with comparative skeletal materials (Drawers 17-26), to give to a sense of the challenges faced by those researchers who identify, analyze, and interpret these materials.
We have supplemented the skeletal materials with archaeological and documentary information about the use of these animals in Spanish Florida and at Mission San Luis.