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.