UWF Maritime Archaeology Field School

The University of West Florida Maritime Archaeology Field School - Summer 2013

Week 10: July 22-26, 2013.

Monday July 22- by Tyler Caldwell

            Our team went out to the wreck known as the San Pablo with the intent of measuring key components of the ship to get a better idea of the ships construction. We were able to get one dive in where three teams took scale photos using a meter stick. Unfortunately a storm enveloped the area and we were forced to call the dives for the remainder of the day.

Tuesday July 23- by Tyler Caldwell

Due to bad weather we had to call the dives for the day and instead visited Fort Morgan and the University of South Alabama’s museum and conservation lab. Fort Morgan was a Civil War fortress that defended the entrance to Mobile Bay. The fort was eventually captured by the Union in the Battle of Mobile Bay. The University of South Alabama’s conservation lab and museum deal in both the historic and prehistoric archaeology of Mobile. Their museum gives a wonderful illustration of the time frame of the mobile area from Native Americans to the Colonial Era.

Wednesday July 24- by Tyler Caldwell

One team was sent out to the Blackwater River to continue target diving for new ships While the other group was sent to continue digging on EPII. In the Blackwater River we target dove in two points of interest from our side scan data. The first target dove appears to be a barge of some sort. The second target was designated a debris field, and when we dove on it we found wood scattered about the area but in no particular order. There was additional wood under the sediment which indicates there may be a structure beneath the sediment. The group on EPII continued dredge work in the midship and stern units. The midships goal was to uncover more of what we believe is the pump box, while the stern unit  dredged one last time to get the units in the stern ready for mapping.

Week 8: July 8-12

This week kicked off the 8th week of the 2013 UWF Archaeological Field School! After a quick break for the 4th of July the students were ready to get back into the field, but as you may know, the holiday was a wet one putting a damper on the week. On Monday we met at MSC and were told that the water conditions would be too bad to get any work done.  In the morning we had a few presentations by the supervisors on their current research. One, by Devin O’Meara, was on the U. S. S. Massachusetts, while the next presentation, by Stew Hood, detailed his research on the S. S. San Pablo, one of the first refrigerated cargo ships used in the early 1900s. The ship was torpedoed in Puerto Limon in 1942 and was then towed to Pensacola where OSS, predecessor to the CIA, then used her as a target for a project. While some of us were in the presentations the others were working with two other supervisors practicing baseline offsets, which is a technique used to map structural features and artifacts for underwater projects. Later in the morning we went to the UWF Wet Archaeology Lab to continue processing artifacts from the Emanuel Point II Project. The processing involves assigning provenience, recording, and mapping of the items for further conservation and analysis.

On Tuesday, the conditions at most of the current project sites were still unfavorable from all the rain, so most of the students set out to survey the Black Water River. Our survey was conducted in an area for the Black Water River Heritage Trail Project. We used a magnetometer to survey pre-plotted lines, running north to south, placed 10 meters apart. The areas included the Marquis Basin entryways and the basin itself. We were able to complete survey on the entryway, while completing 1/3 of the basin starting from the eastern shore. While one group was using the magnetometer, another was using side scan sonar to simultaneously survey the same area for objects at the floor surface or above. The remainder of the students went up the Escambia River to the Floating Bunkhouse Wreck site to attempt to open a unit in the water where a known anomaly had occurred. The attempt was lost on the fact that the condition of the water was too poor.

On Wednesday, the students were again split into two teams to continue survey on separate areas within the Black Water River. One team headed north up the river to conduct side scan sonar of un-surveyed areas off the main river way. We were able to complete our survey, which yielded two substantial structures resembling a barge and potentially a bridge. The second team traveled south along the river and surveyed a decide area using the magnetometer. Our day was cut short by impending weather.

On Thursday, the students were again split into two teams, one attempted to return to the Emanuel Point II project, while the other set out to survey. The first team launched their boats and headed towards the barge, but then had to call off their activities due to inclement weather. The second group was able to complete about two hours of side scan survey in the Black Water River’s Pond Creek area before the storms hit. Both groups packed up and reconvened at the UWF Pace Library to learn how to analyze the data from our side scan survey datasets.

-Megan Mumford and Zach Cruze

July 15-19 2013

Blog Post
Stephen Atkinson

Week nine of UWF’s Maritime Archaeology Field School began with a good bit of rain, causing the students to retreat to some interesting lectures on two merchant vessels sunk by German submarines in World War Two, as well as a lecture on the Bismarck. They then catalogued newly raised artifacts in the maritime artifact conservation lab; as is standard rain day procedure.

​Tuesday proved to be a bit more interesting, as one group left to go target diving on potential sites located with the side scan sonar and ended up dealing with a car that had some how ended up in the river. The other group attempted to do work on the Quintette site, a 19th century logging bunk-house sunk on the banks of the Escambia river, but soon discovered the boat launch was flooded. They were not however disheartened by plan B, seeing as though it was to relocate the torpedo bay doors that had fallen from the stern of the U.S.S. Drum, the oldest NATO class submarine still in existence today. The doors were soon located using circle search methodology, a metal detector and a probe.

​The weather allowed us to make it back out to the barge to do more work on the Emanuel point two shipwreck, where substantial timbers in the stern and midships units were uncovered and mapped.

​Thursday was a similar day on the barge, but also included side scan survey around the Emanuel point site. students had located what they thought was a potential target, but it turned out only to be a pile of old shrimping equipment. Meanwhile, interesting timbers began to surface in the midships unit, with the potential discovery of the pump box becoming more and more likely.

Finally, Friday gave us the pleasure of attending the first dive on the Emanuel point two shipwreck by Dr. John Worth, who only recently attained his sealegs and diving capabilities with the aid of our dive safety officer, Fritz Sharar. We dredged all the units that were open in the midships area to give the good doctor the best view of the wreck possible, and even came up with some fantastic artifacts in the dredge spoil, such as a heavy glazed rim sherd and a hand carved wooden plug!!

July 15-19 2013

Monday: Due to thunderstorms we could not go out into the field. Instead Eric Swanson gave a lecture about his thesis project and Stew Hood gave one about the Bismarck. After this we worked on processing the artifacts that we collected from Emanuel Point II and the lumber camp.

Tuesday: Today we split into two groups; survey, target diving in the Blackwater River, and excavation on the floating bunkhouse on the Escambia. When we arrived at the boat launch for the Escambia River we discovered that the access road was flooded, with this site inaccessible we instead went to Battleship Park in Alabama. After an extensive tour of the USS Drum and the restoration work being done on it, we entered the water with a metal detector in order to find the missing torpedo bay doors. After nearly an hour of searching we found one of the doors buried under more than two feet of sediments. The door was then marked with a buoy and its location noted with GPS for later excavation.

Wednesday: Today was our first day back at EP II in over two weeks. Needless to say we were all very eager to get back to work. We got in a full day of work and everyone on the barge got to do two dives, it was some of the best weather we have had all summer.

Thursday: Another barge day, today we brought the entire crew out to the barge to continue dredge work in the midships and mapping in the stern unit. In addition to excavation and mapping, we also worked with the side scan sonar while we weren’t in the water. Our goal is to find EP III, but we won’t know if we found anything until we analyze the data.

Friday: Today we had a special guest on the barge, Dr. John Worth came out to do his very first SCUBA dive under the supervision of the universities dive safety officer. We also took out a boat to do more side-scan work, but rough seas prevented us from doing very much work. After this we returned to MSC, cleaned and began preparing for Mondays offshore trip.

7.5 Tyler Caldwell

Friday July 5th

In addition to the previously mentioned chapter reading, Tyler Caldwell read Emanuel Point Ship Archaeological Investigations 1997-1998 by Roger Smith. This gives an in depth look at the archaeological research done on Emanuel Point I (EPI). EPI was an older ship at the time it sank in a hurricane. Archaeologists have determined this by the amount of lead sheathing found, which indicates repair work. The ship itself is very well preserved due to environmental conditions, such as low tidal surges, due to the fact it sank in a bay. Having sank at the mouth of a bay, the ship was quickly buried by sediment. The combinations of environmental factors in addition to others have led to a very well preserved site that will continue to provide archaeological insight into early Spanish settlement in the Pensacola Bay area. 

7.3 Tyler Caldwell and Elizabeth Bush

Wednesday July 3rd

After arriving at the MSC at 7am this morning, thunder and lightening prevented us from heading out to our respective sites. We ended up heading over to the Anthropology department for two short lectures given by Dr. Cook and Kelsey McGuire on the Tristán De Luna expedition and on Emanuel Point II and Iberian ship building basics. After these, we moved from the classroom to the conservation lab and worked on some artifacts we collected during the last five weeks.

7.4 Elizabeth Bush

Thursday July 4th

There have been some readings given for this week which help students to obtain more in depth knowledge on the different points of underwater archaeological projects. In the Bowens chapter of reading, there was more importance given to the early steps of search and survey work which, to me, was surprising. There are also more types of survey in which I was unaware. There are many different traits that need to be taken into account when looking at a site. The laying of two fixed points can be used for future surveys and studies, and is a very important task in addition to using global datum points to make the data collected more accessible to others. The survey and accurate drawings which come from different measurement systems also help offset the inevitable destruction of the site. This reading also brings to light how vital it is to the project to record everything found, as well as its location, as precisely as possible.

7.2 Tyler Caldwell and Elizabeth Bush

Tuesday July 2nd

With one of the maritime teams assisting W. Wilson with his site formation processes thesis on the Blackwater River. There were water samples taken in order to perform tests to look at the salinity and other characteristics. That same day the second team went to a different portion of the Blackwater River and mapped the boiler of a wreck called City of Tampa and in addition to a few artifacts which were hand collected from around the site after being piece plotted.

7.1 Tyler Caldwell and Elizabeth Bush

Monday July 1st

One Team was sent out to EPII where we continued to uncover new parts of the midship and stern. Jellyfish attacked our crew and dives had to be called for the day.

Another team was sent out to a new ship wreck on the Quintette Site where B. Booker will be looking at a bunkhouse that would have been used to house loggers during the early 1900s. Nail concretions and steel cable were recovered further north of the bunkhouse before the team moved up river to look for new sites. 

6.4 K. McGuire

Friday: Two crews went out today to work on EPII and the sunken Floating Bunkhouse in Escambia River. The Bunkhouse was a small barge that housed workers from the Cypress logging industry during the early 20th century. It moved up and down the river until it sank, possibly during a flood in 1929. Remains of her bulk head run parallel to the shore, and, at low tide, can be investigated in a terrestrial fashion.The Bunkhouse project is structured around a graduate thesis, which aims to record the site extent, to identify the cause of the wreck, and to elucidate the Escambia Cypress logging industry. Today a crew set up a unit on the shore to expose the wall of the barge. It appeared as if the entire housing unit and porch, which sat on top of the barge hull, slid away from the shore and collapsed into the middle of the river. Our hope is to take a dredge out to the middle of the river, and send down scuba divers to find the housing structure. Meanwhile, on EPII the jellyfish have arrived for the season. Divers dodged the the little guys but to little avail… several of us got tentacles to the neck and wrapped around our arms. The day’s activities continued to uncover timbers in the stern and midship. We are still working around the possible pump box in the midship and are beginning to suspect that our stern units are set up over the collapsed transom, a structure that is rarely preserved on 16th century wrecks. The coming weeks should be exciting on EPII!