Florida Keys Maritime Archaeological Field School

In The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Photographs From The 2005 Field School On The Button Wreck
19th July to 9th August

One of the biggest challenges the Team faced was not being able to use the proper archaeological equipment we needed for this historic wreck site. The wreck site is located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and as a result we were working with NOAA and FKNMS. Normally there is an exclusion on disturbing anything on the seabed in the sanctuary. However ADMAT were given special permission to remove the over burden of sand and sea grass which covered the wreck. This was a hard task as some locations there was over a meter of sand covering the timbers. The Team managed to uncover half of the wreck and in fact one side of the ship. The other was too deep with overburden. The problem was that we were not allowed to use archaeological water dredges to uncover the timbers. It seems there was rules to protect the sea grass but not the wreck! There were millions of acres of sea grass and all we wanted to remove was just half of the wreck which was covered in grass. The sea grass was destroying the timbers with its roots and clearly was there after the wreck. Whilst in the sanctuary the protection of the biological sea life should have equal footing with the protection of the underwater cultural heritage, it seems that this was not the case. Special permission was applied for to use the archaeological water dredges, which went up to the highest levels at NOAA command, but the permission did not arrived in time for the uncovering of the remainder of the wreck. Therefore the Team just did what we could by hand fanning and documented half of the lower hull.