MILTON — The beauty of having active archaeological sites on University of West Florida property is you can create interests for almost any visitor.

Excavation at the Arcadia Mills site has gone on for years and UWF students still complete digs when needed. The excavation process has shifted a little bit north recently to the Arcadia Homestead at 4755 Anna Simpson Road.

"It's about a half mile before the Arcadia Mills site, boardwalk and hiking trails," said Leah Fischer, a student employee at the site who is starting her senior year studying Natural Resources Conservation.

The homestead is part of the Arcadia Mills Archeological Site managed by UWF’s Historic Trust. The opening of the homestead site was made possible after John Ripley and his sister, Suzanne Kranc, donated the current home on the property to UWF in 2016 to honor their mother Suzanne Fischer, who was born, lived and died in the home, said Museum Educator Krystal Johnson.

When you walk the grounds of the site, toward what is considered the back-end of the property, you can see the tarped areas and other protective elements used to protect the dig sites of what is known as the Big House and slave quarters.

Here is where your archeology adventures come in to play, Johnson said. Normally the summer would be a time of active excavation at the site. Because of the opening of the Arcadia Homestead and the activity surrounding the event, the excavations for this year were postponed until the summer of 2020.

If you feel like an Indiana Jones-type that loves the feel of dirt under your nails, go sign up to be an archaeology major at UWF.

On the other hand, if you have some time on your hands you can sign up to observe an actual dig by UWF students and observe their methods and procedures. You can watch, but not participate, in the excavations.

The best option may be the Archaeology in the A/C. It happens every Tuesday afternoon in July at 2 p.m. at the Arcadia Mills Site Welcome Center, 5709 Mill Pond Lane. There you can enjoy a comfortable seat in air conditioning while archaeologist and Arcadia Mills Site Manager Adrianne Sams Walker displays and discusses several pieces of artifacts found at the site.

There are several items laid out for inspection and discussion, Fischer said. Participants can handle the items and try to figure out their uses. Then after some discussion, Walker will inform the participants what the item actually is and its use.

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