2019 Shipwreck Conference – Program

Shipwreck Conference header

Welcome to the Second Santa Elena Conference sponsored by the Santa Elena Foundation, the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort.  This one-day conference gathers together a group of eminent maritime historians and nautical archaeologists to share their understanding of seafaring ventures and shipwrecks from the sixteenth century, America’s Lost Century. In addition, the program will include a special recognition of the contributions by Dr. Eugene Lyon in illuminating the early maritime and colonial efforts at Santa Elena and in Spanish La Florida.

European expansion into the newly discovered Western Hemisphere during the sixteenth-century resulted in numerous shipwrecks–victims of accidents, carelessness, storms, warfare, scuttling, and myriad other hazards and perils.  In fact, scarcely two months after discovering and exploring the newly found island in the New World, Columbus lost his largest ship, the nao Santa Maria, on the north coast of the island of Hispaniola.  The Americas had claimed their first European shipwreck with many more to follow.

This symposium serves to provide an understanding of the various motives, efforts, and results of these early explorers, hunters, and colonizers through use of the historical and archaeological record.  Topics under discussion include an overview of the early ships and men associated with these seafaring voyages westward, colonial ventures, early whaling, transport of goods and products back to Europe, and competing claims between nations to control this new land, most notably at Santa Elena and along the southeastern U.S. coastline of La Florida.  The historians and underwater archaeologists on the program have devoted much of their careers to researching this oft forgotten but important phase in the evolution to our modern world.

Presenters include Carla Rahn Phillips, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Don Keith, Ships of Discovery; Paul Hoffman, Louisiana State University; Barto Arnold, Institute of Nautical Archaeology; Roger Smith, Florida Division of Historical Resources; John Bratten, University of West Florida; Corey Malcom, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum; Chuck Meide, St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program; Brad Loewen, Université de Montréal; Gordon Watts, Tidewater Atlantic Research, Inc; and James Spirek, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Registration and an admission fee are required to attend.


Shipwrecks of Amerca’s Lost Century, 5 April 2019

0830 Auditorium open to guests
0900 Opening Remarks by Symposium Organizer and Moderator, and Recognition of Dr. Eugene Lyon, Honorary Symposium Chair
James Spirek (SCIAA) with Dr. Larry Rowland and Dr. Daryl Ferguson of the Santa Elena Foundation
0930 Iberian Seafaring and Naval Operations during the Sixteenth Century.
Professor Carla Rahn Phillips, Emerita, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; Faculty Research Affiliate, University of Texas, Austin (by video).
1000 Early 16th century shipwrecks in the New World.
Dr. Don Keith, President, Ships of Discovery, and Research Affiliate, Turks & Caicos National Museum.
1030 Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón’s discovery of Southeastern North America, 1521-26.
Dr. Paul E. Hoffman, Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.
1100 BREAK
1115 1554 Flota Wreck, Padre Island, Texas.
Mr. Barto Arnold, Director of Texas Operations, Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University.
1145 The Old Spaniard: Exploration and Analysis of the first shipwreck to be discovered from the 1559 expedition to colonize Florida.
Dr. Roger C. Smith, State Underwater Archaeologist, retired, Florida Division of Historical Resources.
1215 Ballast and Timbers Beneath the Sand: Exploration and Analysis of the Second and Third Shipwrecks to be Discovered from the 1559 Expedition to Colonize Florida.
Dr. John R. Bratten, Professor/Chair, University of West Florida.
1245 BREAK (LUNCH)
1330 On the Eve of La Florida: The Wreck of Santa Clara and the Tierra Firme fleet of 1563-1564.
Dr. Corey Malcom, Director of Archaeology, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.
1400 Jean Ribault’s Lost French Fleet of 1565: The Search for and Discovery of the Earliest French Shipwrecks in Florida.
Mr. Chuck Meide, Director, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.
1430 BREAK
1445 The Wreck of the San Juan, a Basque Whaler at Red Bay, Labrador (1565).
Dr. Brad Loewen, Professor, Université de Montréal.
1515 “He who has weapons in his fist, and who is the strongest, carries the day”—French Corsairing and the Final Voyage of Le Prince, 1576-1577.
Mr. James D. Spirek, State Underwater Archaeologist, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
1545 The Western Ledge Reef Shipwreck: A Sixteenth-Century Spanish Patache off the Isle of Devils.
Dr. Gordon P. Watts, Jr., Director: Tidewater Atlantic Research, Inc.
1615 Closing Remarks and Next Steps
Dr Gene Lyon and James Spirek
1730 USC-B Hosted Reception with Scholars, SEF Board, and Special Guests in USC-B lobby
Click here to download the Symposium Agenda (pdf).