The "Discovery" of the Spanish Sea: First Encounters and Early Impressions


Today, the Gulf of Mexico is known for its abundant marine life, seafood industries, offshore oil and gas development, and as ground zero for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. To the first Spanish expeditions that "discovered" and explored this immense water body in the 16th century, the Gulf was an enigmatic sea. Spain’s earliest attention focused on establishing ports and settlements along the southern Gulf coast and Caribbean islands to consolidate control in the New World. As the Spanish mission system expanded throughout what is now the southern U.S., Spain eventually recognized the importance of maintaining a presence in the northern Gulf coast to protect its sailing routes from Mexico as well as its missions, cities, and entrepóts. As such, the Gulf of Mexico became an important linkage between Spain’s varied interests from the spread of religion to the extraction and transportation of New World resources and commodities.

Cite this Record

The "Discovery" of the Spanish Sea: First Encounters and Early Impressions. Melanie Damour, Pilar Luna Erreguerena, Frederick H Hanselmann. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 435057)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 589