Retired professor George R. Fischer was presented the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Award of Merit “for his many contributions to the development of underwater archaeology and for his exemplary service on the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology.” He is surrounded by his former students students (L to R): Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, Florida Public Archaeology Network NW Regional Director, Dr. Chris Horrell, Melanie Damour Horrell, David Ball (all with Minerals Management Service, New Orleans), Dr. Russell Skowronek, Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Texas, George Fischer, Richard Johnson, Headmaster of Bishop Hall Charter High School in Thomasville, Nancy Fischer, Dr. Steve Dasovich, Science Engineering, Inc., St. Louis, Dr. Kelley Scudder, Director, Center for Caribbean Archaeology, and Chuck Meide, Director, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.
The Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) held its annual conference recently at Amelia Island in Northeast Florida. We were honored to have the SHA Conference visit our veritable back yard. It was a great success, and a great opportunity for LAMP to share with our colleagues all of the great work we have been doing, and the special area that we call home. We were proud to help sponsor and organize this major event, which attracted 1100 of our colleagues from across the world.

Student volunteers man the registration desk at the Amelia Plantation Conference Center at the start of the conference.
LAMP Director Chuck Meide and St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Volunteer Coordinator Debe Thompson served on the Conference Committee as Volunteer Co-Directors. Over 94 volunteers, mostly graduate and undergraduate students from around the U.S., donated their time and hard work to ensure that everything ran smoothly.
Its not long before conference center is packed with over 1000 terrestrial and underwater archaeologists.
The bookroom is the nerve center for the conference. When taking a break from the hundreds of papers going on in surrounding symposium rooms, attendees can check out the latest publications and displays from a wide variety of academic programs, government agencies, and private research institutions. The boat at the entrance was built by our volunteer boatbuilding program, LAMP Boatworks. We had another boat, the colonial era replica of a barca chata or flatboat, in the lobby of the conference center.
The Conference logo incorporated a barca chata in its design. This flat-bottomed boat would have been common in Northeast Florida from the colonial period through the 19th century. On Saturday, the Conference sponsored a Public Day themed “Destination Archaeology!” Despite the record low temperatures, hundreds of locals showed up to see a variety of archaeological exhibits, including LAMP Boatworks volunteers assembling a second barca chata.
LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum organized a display in the bookroom, showcasing recent archaeological research, current programming and publications, and heritage-themed merchandise for sale.
Our displays, including a 1:5 scale version of our excavation trench site plan from our summer research, gathered a lot of attention.
The LAMP and Lighthouse crew take a break to pose for a photo at our booth. L to R: Lighthouse affiliate Salt Run Sales representative Pam Troll, LAMP intern and Jacksonville University student Johann Loo, LAMP Archaeologist Brendan Burke, LAMP Director of Archaeology Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP Director Chuck Meide, and Lighthouse Volunteer Coordinator Debe Thompson.
In addition to our displays and the participation at the Public Day, LAMP hosted a session of seven papers titled “Exploring the Maritime Heritage of America’s Oldest Port: Recent Research on Land and Sea in St. Augustine,” presented another paper on our high school underwater archaeology program in a session pre-college archaeology programs, and sat on a discussion panel focusing on building volunteer diver programs. Our session discussant was LAMP Research Associate and Plymouth State University Professor Emeritus Dr. David Switzer, who joined us live via satellite from New Hampshire to listen in and comment on our papers. Click here to see our session abstract and individual papers with authors, titles, and abstracts.
After the conference, and after hauling all of our displays and boats back to St. Augustine, we gave a number of tours to colleagues from the conference who were visiting St. Augustine. Here are a number of us “on top of the world,” or at the top of the Lighthouse, at least. On the far right is Peggy Leshikar, of the Cayman Islands National Museum. To the left of her is Pilar Luna Erreguerena, Director of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History’s (INAH) Underwater Archaeology Department. Like George Fischer, Pilar is Board Member Emeritus on the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology, and next year she will accept the SHA’s highest honor, the Harrington Award. To the left of her is Chuck Meide, pointing out the location of shipwreck sites currently under investigation by LAMP. To the left of him is one of Pilar’s colleagues, and a colleague of Connie Kelleher, the Director of the Republic of Ireland’s Underwater Archaeology Unit, who took this picture. The only drawback of the entire week was the weather, which featured record low temperatures for a record-breaking period, the coldest weather to hit this region in twenty years. Alas, there was nothing we could do about the weather, but it was still a great time with our friends and colleagues.