Florida Museum of Natural History
Florida Museum of Natural History Historical Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History
Carved bone figa recovered from the Fountain of Youth Park site

Featured Object

Carved Bone Figa

This small amulet in the shape of a clenched fist was excavated from a MenÚndez-period trash pit at the Fountain of Youth Park site (ca. 1565-1570). Figas, (sometimes called higas) were used commonly throughout Spain and the Spanish Americas as a protective charm against the Evil Eye, and were thought to be especially important protection for babies. They are usually made from jet, which in Spain was thought to have additional protective powers. This example, the earliest figa so far excavated in the United States, was carved from bone, and then polished with a black pigment, presumably to make it appear like jet. Perhaps it was made for one of the first Spanish babies born in this remote, sixteenth century Florida outpost.

The figa is currently on display at the Fountain of Youth Park Museum, St. Augustine.

Carved Bone Figa
(Cat# FLMNH-8-SJ-31-2066)
Length: 2.2 cm