A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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The First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project

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As 2009 draws to a close so does LAMP's most ambitious project to date, the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. In 2006 LAMP was awarded a grant worth more than $281,000 by the State Division of Historical Resources and the Florida Historical Commission in order to undertake this 2.5-year comprehensive program of archaeological research and outreach. In the closing days of the project we are finishing analyses and report production after our final of three grant-funded field seasons.

This project brought a sea change to LAMP and our research capabilities.

It has provided us with ten new sets of dive gear, technologically advanced remote sensing equipment, funds for fieldwork and laboratory research, and new staffmembers, including our Archaeologist/Logistical Coordinator Brendan Burke and eleven interns from seven different universities. It has allowed us to build a new dive locker, improve our conservation facilities, cultivate a network of volunteers, and teach three accredited Field Schools and four semesters of our MARC high school underwater archaeology class.

These efforts culminated in a highly successful 2009 field season. Between May 26 and August 31, plus a single clean-up diving day on October 5, we accomplished 421 working dives, generating a total of 397 hours, 20 minutes of bottom time, over 52 diving days. This was accomplished using a total of 38 divers, including 7 LAMP staff and interns and 31 volunteer divers. We completed an excavation trench across an unidentified shipwreck, recovering artifacts and recording its buried hull. We finished 253 linear miles of sonar and magnetic survey offshore St. Augustine, and discovered a new shipwreck when diving survey targets. We hosted a film crew here to produce a documentary titled “The Search for the Jefferson Davis.” This was by far the most productive field season in the entire history of LAMP.

Virtually all of the work we carried out over the last two and a half years fell under the auspices of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, including our fieldwork, educational programs, boatbuilding program, and research in Spanish and U.K. archives. The capabilities we developed through this grant will sustain our research program for many seasons to come, and the knowledge we have gained will inform our understanding and ongoing interpretation of our nation's oldest port for decades.

I thought I'd invite our LAMPost readers to explore many of the accomplishments and discoveries that were made during the course of this project. Follow the link below to see all of the blog entries related to our First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, and stay tuned for more to come as we continue to work on interpreting the historical and archaeological data gathered during the project. Happy Holidays everyone!

Click here to see the listing of First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project blog entries

Special thanks to the State of Florida's Division of Historical Resources, and the Florida Historical Commission for entrusting us to carry out such a significant project through their Historic Preservation Special Category Grants In Aid program. And thank you to all of our research partners and volunteers for making this project such a success!

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