National Geographic : 1992 Jan
the others have been spared by the centuries--and from an un fortunate mistake some 40 years ago. Dominican Republic leader Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo had ordered the area prepared for the arrival of dignitaries. As part of the cleanup, tractors accidentally pushed parts of the site into the sea. Fortunately for Columbus's house, its position at the edge of the cliff protected it from the tractor's blade. Tiles from the Admiral's roof, stacked near the ruin by archae ologists (below), are linked to a major find across the bay. There, Cruxent excavated a beehive-shaped kiln used to make bricks, tiles, and pottery. That discovery shattered centuries-old beliefs about Columbus's town. The kiln and the artifacts around it revealed that, in addition to the main site, Columbus established an other settlement nearby. Before the kiln was found, researchers believed that European ceram ics had not been produced in the New World until decades later. An artist's conception of La Isabela (above), based on years of excavations, shows Colum bus's house domi nating the shore, RESEARCH far right. To the EE PROJECT left stands the colo SUPPORTED ny's church, where S IN PART the first holy bell BY YOUR rang in the Ameri- YO SOCIETY cas. Beyond it are __ houses thought to belong to expedition officers, a hospital, and, at far left, the 113-foot-long storehouse. At the rear of the site, excava tions funded by the Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the University of Florida have revealed La Isa bela's residential area, along with refuse worth more than gold to archaeologists.