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From Spanish Shipwrecks to Coastal Development: The Archaeologist as Adventurer, Public Enemy and Philosopher (Did Anybody Say Scientist?)

Author(s): Jesus Vega

Year: 2016

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Summary

Forty years of research in submerged prehistoric sites, shipwrecks, masonry forts, pirates, colonial wars, bridges, piers, lighthouses, eroding highways, fishing communities, estuarine shantytowns, beachfront condos, hotels, resorts, abandoned Olympic swimming pools, deep-water outfalls, trans-oceanic fiber-optic cables, etc., provide first-hand data for my own conflict theory of coastal evolution. From the earliest prehistoric hunters to my own research, the coast is a place of endless activity, conflict, and ephemeral projects. To see the evolutionary processes beyond historic events, I developed the model of Puerto Virgen, a Pleistocene island encompassing Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, illustrating tectonic and eustatic factors of coastal change. The sea has no dichotomies of prehistoric vs. historic, socialist vs. capitalist, islander vs. mainlander, natural vs. social scientist. This approach allowed me to see the San Juan Bay channels in historic charts as paleo-rivers, facilitating an explanation for the origin of San Juan Islet and the San Juan Bay Estuary, and predictions for engineers. Like art, sites outlive their creators and are open to interpretation; but they are unconscious reflections of social rather than individual action, yielding measurable data.


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From Spanish Shipwrecks to Coastal Development: The Archaeologist as Adventurer, Public Enemy and Philosopher (Did Anybody Say Scientist?). Jesus Vega. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403009)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America