Tag Archives: history

Updates from the Lab

While our beautiful new Maritime Archaeology and Education Center (MAEC) was being built, conservation was disassembled and all artifacts were put into a state of monitored wet storage. Taking those items out of storage and getting conservation back on track has been a slow and detailed process. This process requires an inventory and condition analysis of all items, as well as setting up each area of conservation in order for treatments to begin.

Though we are not quite running at 100% yet, we have made great leaps and bounds. Part of our inventory includes new items recovered from our current shipwreck, Anniversary.  Since everything was essentially put straight into a holding pattern, we are just now starting to analyze the items we recovered last summer. In fact, dredge spoil from the site is still being sorted and new items are being discovered daily.

One of our biggest challenges is to discern what items, if any, are contained within the concretions we recover. Conservation is expensive, so we must focus on items that can answer certain research questions, like the time period or the nationality of the vessel. One way for us to do this is through X-ray analysis. While x-rays won’t show 100% of what is contained within a concretion, they do show us a lot visually and help us narrow our conservation focus.

X-rays allow us to look into concretions without damaging the items inside. This particular X-ray shows a padlock.

Due to the generosity of Doctors Eric Searcy, DMV and John Yselonia, DMV at Antigua Veterinary Practice, we can now begin to take our own x-rays! They donated their previous machine for us to use in our MAEC building, and we have just begun to analyze last summer’s concretions.

Over 25 brass tacks were found using our new X-ray machine!

Our very first in-house X-ray proved to be exiting for more reasons than just being our first X-ray.  Inside the concretion are more than 25 brass furniture tacks, something we have not encountered on our previous wreck sites, and an iron padlock. We are uncertain if either of these items will help us better date or identify this wreck, but it is always exciting to reveal what history has left us.

Contributed by Director of Archeological Conservation Starr Cox, edited by Social Media Specialist Daniel Lee

Welcome to the 450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey!


As we begin to move into our 2016 field season, we are excited to introduce the results of the 450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey, that the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) carried out over the 2015 field season. The “450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey” was a project carried out as part of LAMP’s multi-year First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, which has been ongoing since 2007. The 450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey, named in honor of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary which occurred in 2015, was funded by a State of Florida, Division of Historical Resources Small Matching Grant (No. S1604).

The purpose of the 2015 project was to search for and identify historic shipwrecks in Northeast Florida, particularly those dating to the earliest period of St. Augustine’s colonization. An extension of our 2014 Search for the Lost French Fleet project off the Canaveral National Seashore, the 2015 project focused on searching offshore St. Augustine in hopes of finding early Spanish shipwrecks.

This area had been previously surveyed in 1995 and in 2009, and the 2015 research focused on magnetic anomalies that had been identified in these previous surveys. Project fieldwork was carried out over 27 days between 01 July and 27 August 2015. LAMP archaeologists first analyzed the magnetic data from the 2009 survey, contouring 16 magnetic targets. Two of these targets were re-surveyed in the field, to provide a more refined understanding of their magnetic signatures.

After contouring analysis of the original and refinement data, many of these targets were dismissed as likely to represent isolated modern materials. Several anomalies, however, were believed likely to represent shipwreck sites, and were investigated further by divers.

In the midst of the project, archaeologist and maritime historian Brendan Burke posted the first project update in a blog titled The Quest to Find New Shipwrecks. There, he introduced the various field methods used during the project, from remote sensing survey and data analysis, to target testing and initial test excavations, alluding to the initial successes of these activities. And, as some of you may recall, he ended the blog with a statement from an old professor that applies to all archaeologists. When you have questions, ‘you need to dig more.’

And we have!

Over the past year, we have dug into the data, into the sand, into previous research, and into the past. Follow along over the next few days as our archaeologists and volunteers present our experiences and findings from the 450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey!

Archaeologist Olivia McDaniel first joined the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum team in 2012 as a student at LAMP’s Underwater Archaeology Field School. She officially joined the lighthouse family as an archaeologist in July, 2014, after completing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Idaho.