Friday, October 12, 2007

Luna Shipwreck

Archaeologists from the University of West Florida’s Archaeology Institute and Department of Anthropology (where I teach) have just publicly announced the discovery of a 16th century Spanish ship in Pensacola Bay, almost certainly one of the ships associated with Tristan de Luna’s 1559 expedition to establish a settlement at Pensacola. The find is significant both because of the rarity of shipwrecks from the period in the Americas and because Luna’s expedition was one of the first (although not the first) attempts to establish a permanent European settlement in the Americas north of Mexico and the Caribbean.

As a member of the UWF anthropology department and a resident of Pensacola, I find it quite pleasant to see unqualified good news about the university and the city receiving national coverage. I expected prominent local news coverage of the announcement (see the Pensacola News Journal article here), but I was also pleasantly surprised to encounter Yahoo News picking up the AP newswire account in their U.S. national news section.

Generally, when Pensacola receives national attention it’s because of a hurricane, corrupt politicians, or something else bad. It’s not that plenty of good things don’t happen here – they’re just generally of local interest.

Kudos to the archaeology faculty, staff, and students who helped in making this discovery.

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