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).
Previous Post: Welcome to the 450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey
Archaeologists use a lot of interesting tools to get the job done.
From spectroscopy, a method of getting an elemental fingerprint from archaeological remains, to phytolith analysis, a way of determining exactly what plants made up a long-lost environment, the archaeologist’s toolkit has become much more technological through the past several decades. In this modern technocracy, the simple trowel and screen form only part of the science.
Likewise, searching for shipwrecks at sea has increasingly relied on technology to go beyond visual survey. So much of the oceans, rivers, bays, lakes, even streams flow with waters too cloudy to see through, or are too deep to access with simple SCUBA technology. Besides, our job is to search for a shipwreck because of its historical value not just because it is in clear, warm water. And so to find these, we break out the gear.
LAMP uses a fairly typical suite of remote sensing gear. ‘Remote sensing’ means any tool that can recover and record data from an artifact, a feature, or a site. This data may help archaeologists find site locations or simply learn more about a site like where to dig next.
Our remote sensing gear consists of a sidescan sonar, a subbottom profiler, and a marine magnetometer. The magnetometer is the focus here, the real star of the show.
Magnetometery is not something typically associated with shipwreck hunting. However, it is one of the most useful tools. The basic theory rests on the fact that most historic shipwrecks have a magnetic field around them that disturbs the earth’s natural magnetic field. Continue reading