An Early "Treasure" – Reexamining the 1554 Spanish Plate Fleet Shipwrecks of Texas at 50 years

Author(s): Amy A Borgens

Year: 2020


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.

In April of 1554, three vessels from the Spanish plate fleet were blown off course during a storm and lost at Padre Island in modern-day Texas. Subsequent private salvage of these shipwrecks in the late 1960s resulted in the enactment of state antiquities laws in 1969 and scientific data recovery projects by the Texas Antiquities Committee (TAC, now Texas Historical Commission) from 1972-1975. These vessels constitute the oldest shipwrecks in the United States and commenced some of the earliest state regulatory protective measures for underwater archeological sites. Though invaluable towards understanding early Spanish colonial material cultural in the western hemisphere, only limited studies have reexamined the artifact collection since the original TAC publications of the late 1970s. At the semicentennial of the discovery of the 1554 vessels, this presentation overviews the history of these remarkable shipwrecks, their legacy, and future promise.

Cite this Record

An Early "Treasure" – Reexamining the 1554 Spanish Plate Fleet Shipwrecks of Texas at 50 years. Amy A Borgens. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457316)

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): 885