Converging Worlds: Excavation of the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

The Converging Worlds Project began in 2017 in response to a cultural heritage assessment conducted at the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck (HCW) site, located in the northern Exumas, Bahamas. The wreck is possibly the earliest surviving European shipwreck in the Americas, and is representative of a poorly-known period in history. A multifaceted research design brought together an international team of researchers who partnered with local groups to ensure sufficient study and protection is granted to this unique material. Although the primary focus of the project was to fully excavate, record, and conserve all remaining cultural heritage, a novel reef transplantation technique was added into an existing coral reef management framework. The project’s broader goals included establishing a collaborative network in the region that can sustain future opportunities for Bahamians. Sponsors of the project include Texas A&M University, National Geographic Society, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-18 of 18)

  • Documents (18)

  • Analysis of Québec shipwrecks: the necessity of integrating local divers to improve the management of maritime heritage (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carolane Veilleux.

    The province of Québec, Canada, has witnessed thousands of wrecks throughout its history. Despite this fact, the number of shipwrecks discovered remains very low. In 2009, 49 sites had been located in the province; in 2017, the total had hardly reached 80 wrecks. A great cultural potential is lying under the vast hydrographic system of Québec, but the maritime archaeologists have limited financial resources and few trained workers, not to mention the short field seasons. This brings up the topic...

  • Artifact Assemblage from the Converging Worlds Project (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrew Willard. Dorothy Rowland.

    This paper discusses the artifacts found during the 2017 summer field excavation of the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck, excluding any hull remains. The wreck is well-known and located in an area that has a low sediment level, as a result, the artifact assemblage is expected to be small. The artifacts found and being discussed will be those that were not recovered by salvagers in the 1960s, and were not in the section excavated in the 1980s. Although, there is a possibility of duplicates of previous...

  • Changing Attitudes and Approaches to Shipwreck Archaeology in the Caribbean (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donald H. Keith.

    Since its discovery more than 50 years ago the HIghborne Cay Wreck has been salvaged by antiquarians in 1966-67, partially excavated  by archaeologists in 1986, and  re-examined in 2017. The motivations, focus, techniques, and findings of each of these activities were very different and serve as examples of the evolution of attitudes and approaches to shipwreck archaeology in the Caribbean.

  • Conservation and Restoration Practices for Coral Reefs (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lindsay E Cope.

    Coral Reef ecosystems are composed of sessile colonies that have evolved over thousands of years. The rate of loss of these important and unique ecosystems is heightened by climate change and acute human impacts and their conservation is important for marine life and coastal communities. Many strategies are being used to protect coral reefs including marine protected areas, artificial reefs, and coral gardening. Coral gardening is gaining momentum as communities and scientists work to rebuild...

  • Construction and Assembly of the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charles D Bendig.

    Archaeologists rarely excavate complete sites, due to a mutual understanding that sections should be left for future generations and the advancement of archaeological techniques. The dynamic and high current environment surrounding the Highbourne Cay shipwreck threatened to undermine the formerly protective ballast mound. Over the course of the previous summer, an international team of nautical archaeologists proceeded to remove ballast, coral, and sand to record surviving hull remains. This...

  • Early Modern Shipwrecks Database (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Filipe Castro. Cecilia Smith. Rakesh Kumar.

    In the early 1990s J. Richard Steffy suggested that the body of data on shipbuilding characteristics from archaeological reports was growing and that soon it would be possible to use computers to analyze large sets of data. This paper describes a joint project of the J. Richard Steffy Ship Reconstruction Laboratory (ShipLAB) and Texas A&M Libraries to develop a database of early modern and modern wooden shipwrecks, and both its analytical possibilities, and the necessity to standardize the...

  • The Electric Shield: Stopping Thieves & Turning Hearts with New Technologies (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donny Knowles.

    The Bahamas has a long and storied history of strife and adventure on the high seas, likely longer and richer than anyone knows. Our history is being poached; stolen from the ocean floor and shipped off to auction overseas. These aren’t trophies; they are triumphs and graves, gone and forgotten. Entering nautical archaeology as an outsider has shown me what the average Bahamian can do to expel these thieves from the wealth of our waters, and take back what is ours so we can share it with our...

  • From Slave Labor to Tourism Dollars: An autoethnographic look at the Highbourne Cay Plantation (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ayondela McDole.

    This project is an autoethnographic examination into the Highbourne Cay Plantation turned luxury resort set within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Using Pan-African theory with a Marxist lens, McDole sets out to outline the ways in which economic, social and political patterns on the cay have their roots in slavery discourse through its tourism labor. McDole explains how the social constructs of slave labor has a social impact on the island's economy and theorizes that while formal enslavement...

  • Geospatial Analysis of the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck Maritime Landscape (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John A Albertson. Donny Knowles.

    In archaeology, context is key. Advanced technology allows the expansion of accurate site context from in situ artifact assemblages to globally geo-referenced datasets. Custom aerial imagery over the Highbourne Cay littoral zone facilitated the creation of tailored orthomosaics and digital elevation models. Blended with bathymetry from underwater imaging, manually acquired data points, and public datasets, this geospatial analysis of the Highbourne Cay shipwreck littoral zone provides the most...

  • Highbourne Cay Shipwreck Excavations – Dendro-archaeology (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nigel T Nayling.

    Excavation and recovery of the hull remains of a suspected 16th-century Iberian ship provided a rare opportunity to examine the nature of the forest products exploited and the methods of timber selection used in the ship’s construction. Analysis of recovered timbers combined a range of techniques including high magnification digital photographic capture of tree-ring sequences so that larger samples could be reburied with their parent timbers, 3D digital photogrammetry to capture spatial data for...

  • Maritime Stewards of the Bahamas: The Highbourne Cay Experiment (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Aviva S Pollack. Robin Galloso.

    The Converging Worlds project was so named for many reasons, including the initial goal of incorporating the diverse public, both visiting and local to Highbourne Cay, into the core functioning of the cultural preservation project. For decades, the Bahamas has seen its cultural heritage exported by outsiders for personal interest removing any possibility for community involvement and public archaeology. The authors worked to change this trend through outreach, public education, and cultural...

  • On Ideal and Real Ships: Shipbuilding Treatises c.1570 - 1620 C.E. and the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ricardo Borrero Londoño. Nicholas C. Budsberg.

    Archaeological hull remains are the only direct evidence of real shipbuilding practices, although treatises written by contemporaries detail various methods for controlling the construction of a ship.  However, these technical documents were rarely written by shipwrights or experienced seamen, and at times the vessels and methods described in the text do not accurately describe each step in the shipbuilding process.  Treatises written in the latter half of the 16th century and the beginning of...

  • Portrait of the Bahamas: Shipwrecks and its belongings. (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Samila Pereira Ferreira. Sarah Budsberg.

    The way people feel about their local historical or cultural past reflects their sense and extent of belonging. Identity, therefore, is closely related to the meaning attributed by people to their past. This presentation aims at presenting perceptions of identity related to shipwrecks in the Bahamas, where the circulation of individuals throughout the archipelago is an unending and powerfully formative process. It is well known that awareness of migration patterns is an important contributor to...

  • Re-excavating the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck: The Converging Worlds Project Overview (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicholas C. Budsberg.

    The Converging Worlds project focuses on the presence of the earliest surviving shipwreck in the Americas; a shipwreck thought to be representative of the first vessels to routinely cross the Atlantic, the first to circumnavigate the globe, and the harbingers of the modern globalized economy we have today.  However, amidst this Euro-centric perspective of events, these vessels were also the carriers of disease, mass enslavement, imperialism, and identicide.  The Highbourne Cay Shipwreck in the...

  • Recording the Highbourne Cay Shipwreck: The Process of Documenting a 16th Century Shipwreck Before In Situ Conservation (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Raphael M Franca. Nicholas C. Budsberg. Annaliese Dempsey.

    The Highbourne Cay shipwreck in the Bahamas was discovered in the 1960s by three skin divers and partially salvaged shortly thereafter by the discoverers under a permit from the government of the Bahamas.  The metallic remains of the vessel’s armament were recovered at that time, and surviving hull structure was revealed underneath a ballast mound.  The site was periodically surveyed in subsequent decades, and in the summer of 2017 a field season was conducted to excavate and fully record the...

  • Recurrent Photogrammetry: Theory, Methodology and Application. (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rodrigo de Oliveira Torres. Kotaro Yamafune. Nicholas C. Budsberg. Lucas Vignoli Hernandez.

    The integration of digital tools into the research, interpretation, and public outreach of historical shipwreck sites is rapidly becoming a requirement for any archaeology project. A workflow focused on utilizing photogrammetry point cloud data is presented here, developed from multiple underwater research field seasons, as well as work conducted in 2017 at the Highbourne Cay shipwreck site in the Exumas, Bahamas. The workflow uses photogrammetry for the creation of real-scale, three-dimensional...

  • The Ribeira Velha of Lisbon and the Requalification of Lisbon Water Front. Archaeological Excavations in a Nautical Context. (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ana Catarina Garcia. Brígida Baptista. Jorge Freire. Filipa Silva. Claudia Manso. Filipe Castro.

     During more than one year (2016-2017) public works at Campo das Cebolas, in downtown Lisbon, have exposed archaeological complexes related with his waterfront. This central node of the city and harbor was essential since the Portuguese maritime expansion which spans a period of 500 years, gathering mercantile and daily life activities, buildings, small shipyards, and ships connecting water and land. This paper presents a summary of the finds and a comment of the interest of this excavation,...

  • Ship, Navire, Navío, Nave, Buque... Creating a Multi-Language Glossary for Early Modern Ship (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marijo Gauthier-Bérubé. Ricardo Borrero Londoño. Massimo Capulli. Maria Santos. Filipe Castro.

    Managing multi-language research can be frustrating and limits can soon be reached when trying to figure out the right translation. Moreover, even within one language, many variations exist of the same terms in historical treatises and between various archaeologists. This maelstrom of definitions and terms burden our field to limit our discussion and understanding. By creating a glossary of seven languages with different researchers from around the world, we aim to create a tool for scholars, as...