The Tile Wreck 2019 Project Background

Field School Overview:

This is a unique opportunity to join ADMAT’s maritime archaeological project in the historic town of Monte Cristi on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. ADMAT is working with Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS) to conduct a maritime archaeological survey and excavation of this possible French shipwreck.

For most of 2006 and in part in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015, this wreck was subject to an intensive archaeological survey. The new information expanded the original survey conducted in 2000 and yielded over 2,000 artefacts, three iron cannons, three anchors and many important French faience ware sherds.

Research in Paris led by Dr Francois Gendron and Dr. Jean Rosen from CNRS, has confirmed that the faience ware came from the "Nevers" foundry and dates the sinking of this wreck between 1720 and 1723.

Applications are invited from divers, students, archaeologists and volunteers (minimum age 18) wishing to participate in the project. Only six places per week are available, so this is a unique opportunity to have maximum hands on training.

There are two different types of activity. One working on the wreck site underwater the other at the base, working on the artefacts. For information look through the web pages below. For dates and availability please contact Dr. Spooner on:

Brief History of The Tile Wreck:

The wreck is called The Tile Wreck, due to the cargo which was found in the lower hull. Thousands of terracotta square floor tiles were found, together with shaped and pre cut granite blocks. Clearly the cargo was intended to build something significant as the sheer cost of shipping building materials from Europe to the New World was very costly.

In late 1999 the site was attacked by looters, who removed seven iron cannons from the site and it was decided that an interim survey was required, to ascertain the nationality and nature of the surviving sections of the shipwreck. This was undertaken in 2000, and followed up in 2006 with a major survey and partial excavation.

During the 2006 survey, many pottery sherds were found, indicating a possible French cargo. The lower hull construction remains and provides an excellent insight into the ship construction of the late 1690s to early 1700s. the keelson, mast step, floors and ceiling are mainly intact for the central section.

Field School Objectives & Methodology:   

The objectives for the 2019 season, is to survey 9 sqm of the central section of the lower hull. This area has not been looked at before and the intention is to uncover, photograph and record the measurements of the lower hull timbers. Teams working with the new gradiometer to locate new items on the site near the new section of the ships rudder which was found in December 2013-14. The team will also work in the lab recording the artefacts already recovered using the specially designed databases. For the diving team, their time will be split between diving days and recording days on an equal basis.

During the diving days, the team will measure and record the remaining structure and archaeological training will be given on survey equipment and various relevant archaeological lectures will also be run, weather and time permitting.

This is a very active field school, with as much diving as we can do. All team members will be expected to muck in and take active part in all tasks. This is not a beach holiday. 


The field school is located in ADMAT's Maritime Archaeological Centre in Monte Cristi, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The team will be travelling from the accommodation to the boats which are situated at the Club Nautico or the Fishermens Dock, to The Tile Wreck which is about a mile away. From there the team will go each day by boat through the mangroves to the wreck which is about 15 minutes away. 

ADMAT's maritime archaeological  work on this wreck site was assisted by ADMAT-FRANCE a non profit organisation based in the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

ADMAT-FRANCE is a sub division of the Anglo ~ Danish Maritime Archaeological Team

ADMAT is delighted to have an association with Muséum Nationald’Histoire Naturelle at Paris, départememt Préhistoire, UMR-CNRS 7194.