Smith - 1998 Ill-Fated Galleon

Smith - 1998 Ill-Fated Galleon - I ll-fated Galleon . - ‘...

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Unformatted text preview: I ll-fated Galleon . - ‘ ’" '1 g. Tami. ; 2:183: Z , rm. AW“ ~31 yr! DISCOVERY OF A SIXTEENTH-CENTURY WRECK IS RESURRECTING A FORGOTTEN CHAPTER IN SPANISH COLONIAL HISTORY. by ROGER C. SMITH ROM EMANUEL POINT, A Low BLUFF OVERLOOKING PENSACOLA BAY ON THE GULF OF MEXICO, ONE CAN LOOK OUT TOWARD THE final resting places of dozens of ships dating from colonial to modern times. Elec- tronic probes of portions of the bay, conducted by the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, have yielded the remains of more than 40 I watercraft, including early sloops and schooners, steamships and freighters, as well as modern barges and p‘owerboats. Until 1992, however, no remains from the Spanish colonial period had been found, though scholars were well aware that the bay had been a landing site for Spanish colonists during the sixteenth century. Then in late October 1992 my teammates James Spirek, Della Ireton, and Chuck Hughson detected a magnetic anomaly that‘led to the discovery of a low mound of ballast stones lying On a sandbarf Encrusted with oysters, the partially buried pile appeared to have been incorporated into the bottom over a long period of time, providing an artificial reeflfor generations Ofshellfish. Between 1992 and 1995, we conducted a series of test excavations to determine the nature and significance of the site. The source of the magnetic anomaly was a large wrought-iron anchor, buried fluke-down at, the I shoreward edge of the ballast mound. The shank of the anchor had been twisted and‘bro— ken off just below the lugs that would have held its wooden stock in place. Test units in the center of the mound revealed that the well-preserved lower hull of a large sailing ship lay beneath the stones. The shape of the anchor and the architectural features of the mainmast step assembly and bilge pumps gave us the first indications of the ship’s origin and antiquity. Months of exploration andiartifact analysis led us to conclude that the wreck had been one of the larger vessels in a Spanish fleet led by Tristan de Luna y Arellano, one that in 1559 brought some of the first Euro- pean immigrants to the Southeast in an attempt to colOnize La Florida. ‘ - ‘ Luna's expedition is not well known compared With the JANUARY] FEBRUARY 1998 earlier forays ofjJI‘ann Ponce de Leén (1513), Panfilo de ‘ Narvaez (1528), and Hernando de Soto (1539). The failure ‘ of these expeditions to find the supposed riches of New 3 Spain did nothingito cool Spanish determination to con- ‘ qUer and pacify the northern frontier of the region. Spanish ‘ strategy reqtiired establishment of military colonies on I the Gulf and Atlantic coaSts to prevent French and English 1 encroachmentsandfto make the peninsula secure for Span— ish ships. The Spanish faced other difficulties. Natives were seminoma‘dic, “ hesitant to accept imposed labor, and } inclined to fight intruders, as Ponce de Leon, Narvan, and f Soto‘ found out.3 he region's interior was full of sWamps and dense fOrests and had no fields for farming or grazing. I Offshore reefs, sho‘als,ran‘d sandbars had caused disastrous shipwrecls; ,at least 2,000 Spaniards had perished on the shores of La Florida before colonization was even attempted. By 15555,. the iarchbishop of Mexico Was urging King Philip II tO? the region, and two years later the king ordered VicerOy Luis de Velasco to appoint a governor who would establish a colony. The Viceroy chose Tristan de Luna, who hadifiirs'tj come to Mexico in the company of its " famous con‘queTOr‘Hennén Cortés and had served as niaestre ,de for Frahcisco Vésquez de Coronado. He ‘ 43 wig “WM adv mflw fiflw .v. G o .L o E A H t R A 42.5.2 =m\__=:u _.s.x.< - huh . meanMW weawphwm ndflfldhwfl er.noam0 0099 old Wdlflh adn quakCn a Mehgaeae hS/ef fl wTMwbbis .YaWdew Mbpwaeon "SS ECbr quahmwm .mim mfi S d 2 4 ff: £773 was ordered to build traditional Spanish towns and to appoint councilmen, judges, and bailiffs. According to the viceroy's instructions, the first settlement at Ochuse (the ‘ native name for Pensacola) was to have a fortress for 100 colonists, storehouses, jails, inns, and slaughterhouses. The Luna expedition assembled at the Veracruz port of San ]uan de Ulua, where 11 ships were loaded with sup— plies of com, hardtack, bacon, dried beef, cheese, oil, vine- gar, wine, and live cattle, as well as arms, armor, and tools for construction and agriculture. When the armada departed, it carried 540 soldiers, 240 horses, and more than 1,000 colonists, black servants, and Aztecs and Tlaxcalans who would do the farming. On August 15, the fleet anchored in the sheltered waters of Pensacola Bay, and the colonists went ashore to pick a suitable place to build a town. Luna ordered scout- ing parties to search inland for food, since the fleet's sup- plies were calculated to last only 80 days. The remainder of the settlers began to unload the ships. On September 19, a hurricane struck the armada, sinking all but three of the vessels, some of which still contained their cargo. Many _ I] I “(3 roe aments fl - , “It.” “llr‘f”fl ‘ ‘aunls g h SHIPWRECK SITE PLAN shows hull remains and ballast pile against a hypothetical outline ofthe ship and the find- spots of some of its artifacts, Excavations mldshlps revealed the keelson, the vessel's inner spine. Atest trench showed thatthe ribs and hull planks had been broken, probably by severe pounding ofthe ship's bottom on the sandbar during rough seas. 44 people lost their lives, and supplies on shore were damaged by heavy rains. Although four relief voyages were attempted from Mexico and Cuba, the disaster doomed the fledgling colony; Luna fell ill, and discontent among the hungry immigrants bordered on mutiny. Although the viceroy replaced Luna with another governor, Angel de Villafafie, the enterprise was beyond salvation, and its survivors trick- led back to Mexico. 5 WE BEGAN TO TEST the Emanuel Point Ship, we were surprised by the good preservation of its wooden hull and contents, which, lying in only 12 feet of water, were exposed to waves and currents. We found fragments of tanned leather shoes, butchered animal bones, bits of rope, and persimmon-wood dunnage. Over time the portion of the ship below the waterline (about 20 percent of the original hull) and its ballast stones had been sealed beneath a dense stratum of oyster, clam, and mussel shells bound in compacted silt, an accumula— tion of generations of organisms that had thrived and died around the ship’s remains, forming a cap protecting the site gal/eon carving olive pits cross gauged in mainmast mortise ARCHAEOLOGY from erosion and dispersal. Below the shell cap is a layer of loose silt and shell that entered the ship as it wrecked and disintegrated. Artifacts and other shipboard remains associ— ated with the hull are found within this layer. Trapped between the ship’s frames and in its bilge are artifacts that accumulated during its sailing career, including an array of plant and animal remains and other organic debris. Clean gray sand with remnants of shells and worms below the ship’s hull represent the original sandbar on which the ship foundered. The port side of the vessel had broken apart, evidence that the ship went down in a violent storm. Heavy pound- ing on the sandbar had separated floor timbers from fut- tocks (composite pieces of the ship’s frame), and dispersed inner and outer hull planking. The rudder had detached from the vessel; we found it nearby, surrounded by rem- nants of protective lead sheathing torn from the hull. The fact that primary cargo items such as expedition stores, tools, and personal effects, which would have been stowed in the hold, were missing, indicates the ship was probably salvaged after the hurricane. Yet what we have recovered breast plate Spanish blana + its encmstafion + olive iar Jauunv/ FEBRUARY 1 998 Lynda D'Amico/Cnunesy Roger C. Smith \ thus far represents a broad range of material culture that will help us interpret the frontier phase of Spanish overseas settlement. The small volume of ballast in relation to the original size of the ship (estimated to have been more than 100 feet long, with a cargo capacity of more than 400 tons) suggests that the vessel was heavily laden on her last voyage. Recov- ery of stone cannonballs, along with smaller lead and iron ammunition, indicates the ship probably carried batteries of light and heavy artillery, although none has yet been found. Discovery of an iron breastplate near the rudder suggests that at least a few people on board were prepared for com- bat. Associated with these deposits are burnished and hand—painted ceramic sherds, identified as Postclassic Aztec ceremonial pottery made in the central Valley of Mexico. Unlikely to have been European cargo or trade items, the unusual pots may have belonged to an Aztec pas- senger and help identify the ship's last port of call. Repairs to the hull and lead patching reflect the ship’s years of service delivering goods and products to the Span- ish colonies. During one voyage, it apparently carried a cargo of mercury, some of which escaped into the bilge. We have collected more than 250 milliliters of the liquid, which had been exported to Mexico under royal monopoly from 1556 onward for the amalgamation of silver from ore. On another voyage, the ship carried New World products back to Spain, possibly cowhides loaded on the island of Hispaniola, where cattle farming thrived. Accompanying this cargo were hungry Dermestes maculatus beetles that feed on stored leather goods and other high-protein materi- als; we found their wing covers deep in the bilge. Evidence of shipboard diet was also found in the bilge. Bones of domestic pig, cow, and sheep or goat have butchering marks, suggesting they were part of standard provisions usually prepared before such a voyage by boiling and salting. Chickens may have been taken aboard live. The fish bones are from typical Gulf of 'Mexico varieties, and probably found their way into the ship after it wrecked. Traditional Mediterranean foods, such as olives, plums or prunes, cherries, and hazelnuts, are represented by their remains in the ship’s bilge. Other fruits, such as papaya and sapote, and nuts, such as coconut, hickory, and acorn, reflect the ship's operationin the Caribbean tropics and in the temperate northern Gulf of Mexico. Unwelcome stowaways boarded the ship with the provi- sions. Cockroach eggs, perhaps borne in hampers of sea biscuit, would have hatched in the darkness of the bread locker below deck. The insects multiplied in the dim and humid recesses of the hold, probably taking over the galley at night after‘the cookstove was extinguished. We found eg cases and‘body parts of the American cockroach (Peri- planeta americana) among» the organic deposits. Despite its name, this cockroach is not endemic to the Americas, hav- ing originated in tropical Africa and been transported to 3 [7;] (J [,1 J E 1.2:; (-11) EJ- Efiijv [1:3 E43 2:3 11:3 11;} it; m w 3. fl“) f f) f) :3 . f. South America on slave ships. Its presence on the Emanuel Point Ship demonstrates that the insects reached the Americas in the early sta es of the slave trade. fokingly called “game birds" by Spanish sailors, cockroaches competed for sustenance at sea with larger stowaways. Black wharf rats (Rattus rattus) colonized the vessel's bilges and gnawed on foodstuffs in the ship’s stores. Apart from being a nuisance, the rats also car- ried disease, and they were hunted down periodically by the ship's crew for this reason. Rat bones that we collected show evidence of rickets, poor dental health, and cannibalism. The remains of common house mice (Mus domesticus) were also found in the bilge; they A.ILG.. Berlin/Supchle ecosystem despite the more numerous rat population. ELL INTO ONE afternoon of diving, the sun providing only a hazy glow to illuminate the pump well on , p the ship's port side, I gently sifted through scraps of wood in the silt, bits and shavings left behind during the vessel's construction. Nearby, we had found the carved handle of a gimlet, a small shipwright's auger. I thought about the workmen, crouched in the same space that now had become my own workplace, fitting out the ship, then watching it launched, rigged, armed, and provi- sioned. As I:picked up a small piece of wood, I recognized that in my hand was a, miniature ship, carved in the classic shape of a sixteenth-century Spanish galleon, with pro— nounced forecastle, high freeboard, towering sterncastle andigallery, land the‘h‘e‘avy beakhead at the bow Someone familiar the hallmark features of contemporary naval architecture} had carefully reproduced them on a slender piece of scrap fir. ‘ Prompted by the discovery of a large metal pitcher and copper cooklihg cauldron in the forward part of the hull, a second excavation season was launched in 1997 in con- junction the University of West Florida to investigate what we thihk was thejship's galley space. Recovered from between twoliframes in: the starboard bow, the pitcher was made of heavy copper lined with tin; its concave base sug—’ gests that it Was used to. heat liquids, probably on the ship's cooking hearth. The large copper cauldron would have been used prepare hot meals over the fire. The fragile container and its c0ntents were recovered by wrapping them with elastic bandages before lifting them to the sur- face. Nearby, other copper utensils, such as a skillet, saucepan, funnel, and a‘bronze pestle for grinding spices in a mortar, were unearthed along with fragments of Ceramic tablewares and animal bones. Fibrous matting, woven in a Ships, oithe Luna expedition maritime moving had developed their own niche in the floating va n8. . crisscrossed pattern, was also recovered from the galley area; it may have served as packing material or dunnage for the storage of provi- si0ns. With the addition of new team members Cozzi, Keith Plaskett, and David Pugh, we are continuing to explore the bow of the ship. To date, more than 5,000 artifacts have been conserved under the direction of John Brat- ten, Gigi Naggatz, and Harv Dickey at the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board, where an exhibit has opened to the public. Archival researcher Denise Lakey has gathered from Spanish archives copies of more than 100 previously unstudied documents about the Luna expedition. Examination of these docu- ments may help identify the name of the wreck and give clues to the whereabouts of others in the bay. In 1996 the wreck site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of its importance to American history. Additional electronic survey is planned in an effort to locate other vessels of the Luna fleet, which may be nearby. As a vessel of colonization, the Emanuel Point Ship offers a first look at Hispanic immigration and settlement patterns from a maritime perspective. The few other known sixteenth—century shipwrecks in the Americas have given us insights into the nature of early Iberian maritime exploration, transatlantic fishing, and mercantile fleets. Ships of exploration, such as the Molasses Reef wreck in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Highborn Cay wreck in the Bahamas, had small, heavily armed crews, with sparse supplies, sailing in relatively small vessels. These were the scouting vehicles of Spanish conquest, operating in the first quarter of the sixteenth century throughout the Caribbean. Later shipwrecks, such as the Basque whalers found off Labrador, reflect the seasonal harvesting of whale oil. They were the tankers of the time, dominating a lucra— Vtive transatlantic trade by the‘ middle of jthe century. Dur- ing the same period, a Spanish colonial mercantile convoy. system had been developed between the Old World and the New, as evidenced by merchant vessels that wrecked off Padre Island, Texas, in 1554. They were the freightlin— ers of trade, bringing European necessities to the colonial frontier and returning to Spain with exotic products. The ships of the Luna expedition, on the other hand, were mar- itime moving vans transporting people and their belongings from one colony to another. The Emanuel Point Ship is providing us with tantalizing clues to this early seabome migration. l ROGER C. SMITH is the state underwater archaeologist for the Florida Division of Historical Resources. ARCHAEOLOGY 1. My 3 3 m, aw m, w E E a fin ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/24/2011 for the course ANTH 318 taught by Professor Oertling during the Spring '09 term at Texas A&M University-Galveston.

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Smith - 1998 Ill-Fated Galleon - I ll-fated Galleon . - ‘...

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