The 2011 Underwater Field School Begins!

This week’s video:

Underwater Archaeology Field School: Episode I

As the dawn burns the mist from the shores of Pensacola Bay, it’s not hard to imagine that the crew loading equipment into the small boats beached here are apparitions from the days of Tristan de Luna – ghosts of those first pioneers who, but for the wrath of a hurricane, would have built North America’s first permanent European settlement in 1559.

But instead of stores of food and supplies, today scuba tanks and scientific equipment are being loaded for the short trip across the choppy waves to the site where the Luna fleet has rested for over 450 years.

This summer, the University of West Florida Underwater Archaeology Field School will collect data on these and other submerged cultural resources in Northwest Florida. The skeletal frames of ships from the Age of Discovery will act as both teacher and classroom as participants hone their archaeological skills recording and excavating live sites.

Divers practice mapping a sherd

To prepare for this fieldwork, students first perfect the techniques of data recovery during intensive scientific diving exercises under controlled conditions. Once confident of their ability to perform meticulous operations not only underwater but in poor visibility, the teams enter dive rotations for the summer’s active projects.

We invite you to follow us here as each week crews of students and supervisors work together to uncover the secrets of Pensacola’s hidden maritime past.

Contributor: C. Keohane



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