Edge of Empire
The study of the Iberian expansion of the 15th and 16th centuries has been the subject of perhaps thousands of books. However, their ships are almost completely unknown to us. There are no complete written descriptions of these vessels, the iconographical evidence is scarce and not always reliable, and most of the archaeological evidence has been systematically destroyed since the 1950s by the treasure hunting industry.
In cooperation with the Secção Autónoma de Engenharia Naval (SAEN) of Lisbon's Instituto Superior Técnico, a team from the Ship Reconstruction Laboratory (ShipLab), in the Nautical Archaeology Program (NAP) at Texas A&M University, is trying to build a comprehensive image of these ships, the way they evolved in time, and the environment in which they were designed and built. With a number of thesis and dissertations currently in progress we have build a strong research group and want to present this collective project in a panel or special session at the 2006 meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA).