The Monterrey Shipwreck: Parting Shot

Photomosaic of Monterrey Shipwreck #1
Photomosaic of Monterrey Shipwreck #1

National Geographic Grantee and Texas State University Research Faculty Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann and a team of leading archaeologists are conducting an expedition to the Monterrey Shipwreck in order to carry out the deepest archaeological shipwreck excavation ever in North America. Follow along with Fritz’s updates from the field.

 By Fritz Hanselmann

Now that I am back on land and getting adjusting to not having my “sea legs” anymore, I would like to wrap up this project blog by posting a photomosaic of Monterrey Shipwreck #1.  This is just one of the results of archaeology and what we do with the data that we collect through investigating sites.  This also emphasizes the real effort that we make to map a site prior to any disturbance.  The Ocean Exploration Trust’s mapping specialists created this image by using almost 900 images taken by the ROV Hercules while mapping the site.  In addition to the initial mapping results, the recovered artifacts have been dropped off at the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University-College Station where they will undergo conservation treatment to prepare them for future exhibition.  The various processes will take anywhere from six months to three years during which time the artifacts will be analyzed and studied in depth and that is why fieldwork is only the tip of the iceberg.  In closing, I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to all of the project partners, sponsors, funders, and especially those who tuned in to watch all of this live, we hope to return to the site in the future and bring everyone along with us, albeit virtually.

Funding provided by foundations and individual donors through the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and the Office of Advancement at Texas State University, the Way Family Foundation, and the Harte Family Foundation. 

Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann is Research Faculty, who serves as the Chief Underwater Archaeologist and Diving Program Director with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. He is also the director of The Meadows Center’s Underwater Archaeology and Exploration Initiative. Fritz learned how to swim at age three, and has been in love with the water ever since, having been taught to breath hold dive by his grandfather diving for golf balls tied in a sock in the Gulf of Mexico. Having worked on underwater sites from a wide variety of time periods, his research ranges from submerged prehistoric deposits in springs and caves to historic shipwrecks in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the wreck of the Quedagh Merchant, abandoned by Captain Kidd in 1699 off the coast of Hispaniola. Fritz led the first-ever archaeological survey of the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama as the initial phase of the ongoing Río Chagres Maritime Landscape Study. One aspect of this study is the Lost Ships of Henry Morgan Project, the search for the famous privateer’s sunken ships. He is one of the Principal Investigators of the Monterrey Shipwreck Project in the Gulf of Mexico, which is the deepest shipwreck excavation ever conducted in North America, in collaboration with three federal agencies, three universities, and three non-profit organizations. Fritz is also the co-director of the Sunken Ships of Colombia project, which focuses on finding, documenting, studying, and managing historic shipwrecks along the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The Spring Lake Underwater Archaeology Project on the university’s campus also falls under his supervision and he assists other projects in Mexico and Texas as part of the Initiative. Fritz also focuses on capacity building and training for archaeologists and heritage managers in less developed countries, as well as the development of marine protected areas and underwater preserves. He is a GUE Cave and Technical Diver, a Nautical Archaeology Society Tutor, a certified scuba instructor, an ambassador for Aquadive Watches, and a fellow of the Explorer’s Club. Fritz regularly gives public lectures and presentations for museums, universities, and other organizations.

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