Colonial Shipwrecks of Colombia: Meet the Team


The Team (L-R): Hanselmann, Espinosa, Horrell, Martín, Ho, Diaz Credit: Universidad del Norte
The Team (L-R): Hanselmann, Espinosa, Horrell, Martín, Ho, Diaz
Credit: Universidad del Norte

National Geographic Grantee and Texas State University Research Faculty Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann and a top-notch team of archaeologists from Colombia and the United States are leading an expedition to locate and document historic shipwrecks off of the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Follow along with Fritz’s updates from the field. 

It’s not everyday that a team of good friends and colleagues is assembled that is capable of carrying out the work that we do and being adaptable to a variety of different factors including weather, living conditions, and the fact that we are working underwater.  This team also benefited greatly from the project archaeologists who volunteered their time to come and work with us from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center (NPS SRC).

Principal Investigator: Dr. Juan Guillermo Martín (Universidad del Norte)

Co-Principal Investigator: Frederick H. Hanselmann (Texas State University/The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment)

Project Historian: Dr. José M. Espinosa (Universidad del Norte)

Project Archaeologists: Dr. Christopher Horrell (BSEE), Andres Diaz (NPS SRC), Bert H0 (NPS SRC)

It goes without saying that we had a very productive, albeit short, field season and we are all looking forward to coming back again very soon!  I would also like to reiterate that none of this would have been possible without the assistance and support of the organizations and institutions listed below.  We owe them a heartfelt thank you for making this possible.

Funding and support provided by a National Geographic Society-Waitt Grant, the Universidad del Norte, the Ministerio de Culturathe Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia, the Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e Hidrográficas of the Dirección General Marítima, the Agencia Presidencial de Cooperación Internacional de ColombiaHalcyon Dive Systems, Cabañas Anayansi, Dive and Green Dive Centerthe Way Family Foundation, and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University.




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Meet the Author
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.