Custom «Spanish Colonial Power in the United States» Essay Paper Sample

Spanish Colonial Power in the United States

Spain was one of the most powerful world’s empires for several centuries, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth (Kamen). It conquered many countries and it had colonies all over the world. The United States also appeared under the Spanish control. In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, and it was the beginning of the Spanish colonization of the United States. This work is aimed at studying the Spanish colonial power in the United States in terms of archaeology.

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Archaeology is a quite valuable science since its discoveries help the historians observe certain historic periods or countries and make proper conclusions. People include artifacts, tools, graves, architecture, and cultural landscapes to the archaeological records. The archaeological research employs various methods chosen according to the tasks. Thus, archaeologists are able to find interesting facts and historical things through surveying, excavating, and analyzing archeological sites.

The history shows that Spaniards were the pioneers of America, as their colonization started earlier than, for example, the British one. The first reason of the Spanish colonization was a rapid growth of population that had led Spain to the shortage of lands. Another reason was the fact that Spain together with Portugal was the largest maritime country and they fought for the new routes to India. When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, he thought that it was a part of India. After that, Spaniards settled in the liberated lands, built cities, and fortified their settlements. They began the colonization of the lands because they understood the economic opportunities of the New World (Fagan 227). Spanish conquistadors took control of such lands as the state of Aztecs (Mexico) in 1519-1521, the land of the Incas (Peru) in 1531-1533, Chile in 1535, and the state of the Muisca (Colombia) in 1536-1538. Americans tried to become free from the Spanish Empire for several times and fought several wars with Spain. Thus, the Mexican-American Wa of 1846-1848 led to America’s victory and the annexation of Texas. The Mexican-American War lasted for a year and nine months. In 1898, the Spanish-American war started on the conquered territories. After only three months of battles on such lands as Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam, this war ended in the victory of the United States.

The Spanish exploration in the United States has been the subject of archaeological and historical research for a long time. The first archaeological works took place near St. Augustine, as it was the first European settlement in the New World. Later, archaeologists focused their attention on “such sites as Santa Elena (South Carolina) and St. Augustine (Florida), Colonial Pensacola, the missions of North Florida, and into the interior of the North American continent” (Majewski and Gaimster 383). Numerous artifacts scattered across all parts of the North American continent unwittingly force the researches to reflect on how developed the culture of these peoples was.

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Saint Augustine in north-eastern Florida is an interesting and significant place for history and archaeology. It is the oldest city in the United States and the first European colony in the New World. The Spanish admiral and later the first governor of Florida Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded the city in 1565. The city was named San Agustin because of the feast day when the admiral arrived in Florida. Over 200 years, St. Augustine had been the capital of Florida that was under the Spanish control. Since the 19th century until nowadays, St. Augustine remains the major tourist attraction owing to its historical significance. That is why this place is of great interest to the archaeologists and historians.

There is one more interesting archaeological site located 500 kilometers from Bogota. It is a fantastic park of stone idols called San Agustin Archaeological Park in Colombia. In 1995, San Agustin became a UNESCO World Heritage Site wheree many megalithic sculptures and graves are for the public viewing.  

A Catholic monk Juan de Santa discovered them in 1758. According to his stories, these fantastic sculptures inspired both fear and respect. Two centuries later, archaeologists became interested in this place, and in the middle of the 19th century, an Italian scientist Godacci visited San Agustin to make sketches of some statues. Fifty years later, Professor of Archeology Charles Stepl went there, made some casts of the statues, and discovered that some of them were tombs. However, there were no bones in them, so he suggested that they had completely decomposed.

As the result of further research, about 328 stone unique idols were discovered. They have only a few common features - huge, sharp teeth, and fierce glance. Many creatures hold infants in their paws. Some statues have knives and the other have styluses for writing. There is a dolmen (table-stone) that consists of two statues and two columns in the middle of the area. A huge stone plate, lying on the columns, is similar to the body of the temple. A spectral analysis of rocks indicated that the first figures of the San Agustin Valley were created in 800 BC. It means that they are older than the Egyptian pyramids.

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Another interesting thing in San Agustin is a group of fountains found in the monolithic stone. There is a net of channels of varying depth, width, and length, flocking to the small and large pools. This facility is spread over an area of three hundred square meters. The channels form an ingenious maze.

Consequently, owing to archaeology, the United States got a part of its history, mainly the history of the period of Spanish colonial power. The archaeological research showed that these areas that were under Spanish control had a highly developed culture and lifestyle at this time. Each finding has an important meaning for the United States because they are integral parts of the country’s history.

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