300-Year-Old Treasure Trove Ancient Cannon to Be Raised

Article excerpt

The cannon has rested at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean a

half-mile off St. Augustine for more than three centuries, with

the hull of what experts say is a 17th century Spanish merchant

vessel slowly disintegrating around it.

Now, the archaeologists who discovered the wreck last fall plan

to retrieve the cannon and embark on a year's worth of

exploration in waters off the nation's oldest city.

The cannon's retrieval by the non-profit Southern Oceans

Archaeological Research Inc. is the first in a series of

explorations set for this summer.

After the cannon is donated to the city's first maritime

archaeology display at the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum,

divers will research the origin and identity of the wreck.

They will then begin the first large-scale search of other

historic wrecks off Northeast Florida, a quest described by

Eugene Lyon, director of Flagler College's Center for Historical

Research, as an archaeologist's dream after years of wondering

what lies in St. Augustine's historic waters.

The shipwreck discovery was the result of the first-ever

search for wrecks offshore of St. Augustine last fall.

Since then, researchers have uncovered leads to the ship's

identity and lined up $60,000 in grants to begin the next phase

of exploration, $20,000 from the Florida's Historic Preservation

Board.

After they retrieve the cannon on June 2, archaeologists will

see what is under the other cannons, anchors, cannonballs and

stone grinding wheel.

Working with an East Carolina University archaeology team,

divers will look deeper into three nearby 19th-century

shipwrecks and other possible sites. …