The Search for Le Griffon

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

In June 2013, an international team of American and French archaeologists, professional divers, and the recreational divers who initiated the search commenced test excavations at site 20UM723 in northern Lake Michigan at the hypothesized wreck location of La Salle’’s Le Griffon, which sank in 1679. This symposium presents all aspects of the project from its inception to the current research findings. The undertaking serves as a model for international and interdisciplinary research and underwater community archaeology. Papers will cover the project’’s background including recreational diver community involvement, the historical documentation for Le Griffon and its potential wreck site, scientific remote sensing survey of the purported wreck site, site testing and ground truthing of the remote sensing data, and wood analysis and conservation of the recovered culturally modified timber.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-5 of 5)

  • Documents (5)

  • Community Engagement in Underwater Archaeology: The LaSalle-Griffon Project (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kenneth Vrana. Misty Jackson. Mark Holley.

    After several years of litigation, the Great Lakes Exploration Group, State of Michigan, and Republic of France in 2010 authorized a cooperative archaeological investigation to identify Site 20UM723 (proposed Le Griffon site). Based on the findings, test excavations were conducted in 2013 with support from archaeologists, other scientists, scientific and professional divers, avocational historians, and community members near the project site. This example of community engagement will be...

  • Field Methods for Excavation of a Culturally Modified Timber on Site 20UM723 in Lake Michigan (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James R. Reedy. David Miller. Misty Jackson.

    In June 2013, a permit was issued by the State of Michigan and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the preliminary excavation of Site 20UM723 in northern Lake Michigan. The permits were granted after several years of non-disturbance investigations which included remote sensing surveys using a side-scan sonar and cesium magnetometer, and sub-bottom profilers. The lakebed of the site was also physically examined several times by scuba divers. Once excavation commenced, however, the investigators...

  • Historical Context and Documentation for La Salle’s Le Griffon (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rich Gross. Misty Jackson.

    Le Griffon was the first European vessel to sail Lake Michigan. Constructed at the east end of Lake Erie, it sank in 1679, mere months after its launch. The location of the wreck has been a matter of debate for years, and eleven previous wrecks have been purported and disproved to be Le Griffon. This paper examines the historical evidence available concerning the vessel, including its purpose, construction, voyages and cargo. Documentation, including Native American traditions, is presented that...

  • A timber in the Michigan Lake: an archaeological trace of the Griffin (1679)? (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric Reith. Michel L'Hour. Olivia Hulot.

    The French explorator Robert Cavelier de la Salle has played a fundamental role in the history of the exploration of North America and the establishment of a French colony in Louisiana. His attempts to install trading posts, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, have been punctuated by two shipwrecks, the one of the Griffon in 1679 and the second one of la Belle in 1686. Built in 1679, south of Niagara Falls, the Griffon sank in Lake Michigan when he joined Michilimackinac with a cargo of furs and...

  • Using tomography and dendrochronology to determine the age of the recovered bowsprit (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carol Griggs.

    The culturally modified timber, possibly of a ship, buried near Washington Island, between Green Bay and Lake Michigan has been found to be an oak. Dendrochonological analysis is underway to place the shipbuilding of this artifact in time. Sampling the wood for this purpose was limited due to the wet condition of the timber, but tomography (CT scans) will be utilized to reveal the wood structure and tree-ring boundaries. CDendro and CooRecorder software will be used to measure the tree rings....