The Lost Ships of Cortés Project and the Search for a 500-Year-Old Scuttled Fleet


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Plus Ultra: An examination of current research in Spanish Colonial/Iberian Underwater and Terrestrial Archaeology in the Western Hemisphere." , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

The discovery and exploration of Mexico during Spanish expeditions in 1517 and 1518 set the stage for the conquest of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán in 1521. Appointed by the Governor of Cuba in 1519, Hernán Cortés led an expedition to explore and establish trade in this area. While Cortés forged alliances with indigenous communities, a faction of his men mutinied. Cortés ordered ten of his eleven ships sunk in order to quell the mutiny, and decided to break from the Cuban Governor by establishing a town. The eleventh vessel, Cortés’ flagship, was sent to Spain with news of his discoveries and intentions. Shortly afterward, Cortés marched inland and began his conquest of Mexico. In 2018 and 2019, the Lost Ships of Cortés Project conducted geophysical surveys and diver investigations to identify the 500-year-old remains of these scuttled vessels. This paper discusses the results of the first two field seasons.

Cite this Record

The Lost Ships of Cortés Project and the Search for a 500-Year-Old Scuttled Fleet. Christopher Horrell, Roberto Junco, Melanie Damour, Frederick H. Hanselmann. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457278)

Spatial Coverage

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

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 382