Discovery Science Center and Mission San Juan Capistrano have partnered to bring the “Adventure of Archaeology” a little closer to home for Southern California residents and visitors.
The Science Center’s upcoming exhibit “Indiana Jones and the Adventures of Archaeology” will feature authentic artifacts from Orange County’s own archeological treasure, Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra as part of the Catholic Church’s early efforts to convert Native Americans in the area. In its 236 years of existence, the Mission has served as church, private residence, school, and museum, and helped define an integral part of California’s founding history.
Currently, the Mission is the oldest operating church in California and Mass is still held daily in the world renowned Serra Chapel just as it had in Father Serra’s time.
The Mission is also the site of the ruins of the Great Stone Church, sometimes called the American Acropolis. This once massive edifice featured seven domes and its own bell tower, but was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake that killed 40 worshippers.
In the mid-20th century, Mission San Juan Capistrano began to carry out archaeological excavations as part of its investigative research. Many more excavations have been needed over the years as the Mission has undertaken preservation efforts and performed building maintenance, and several key discoveries have been made including the original building foundations, ceramics, animal bones, stone implements, weapons, tools, original ovens, underground walls, and a crypt.
To help increase the public’s knowledge of archaeological sciences, Mission San Juan Capistrano is lending some of its new and exciting finds to Discovery Science Center’s upcoming exhibit.
Visitors to Discovery Science Center can expect to see a statue of St. Francis dating from the late 1700s, a silver ciborium (see-bawr-ee-um | a religious vessel for holding sacramental bread), limestone blocks from the Great Stone Church, ceramic and glass bottle shards dating from the 1850s, and a 19th Century horse bit.
These artifacts represent the historical significance of the religious, architectural, and every-day existence of Mission San Juan Capistrano’s varied history, and are sure to capture the imagination of any aspiring Indiana Jones.
Mission San Juan Capistrano is located at 26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano.
To learn more, visit www.missionsjc.com.
*Contributed by Mission San Juan Capistrano