Principal Investigator: Dr. Donny L. Hamilton


Once known as the 'Wickedest City on Earth,' Port Royal on the island of Jamaica was one of the largest towns in the English colonies during the late 17th century.  It was a haven for privateers and pirates, such as the famed Sir Henry Morgan, due to its excellent geographic location in the middle of the Caribbean.  From Port Royal, these buccaneers preyed upon and plundered the heavily laden treasure fleets departing from the Spanish Main. 

After 1670, the importance of Port Royal and Jamaica to England was increasingly due to trade in slaves, sugar, and raw materials.  It soon became the mercantile center of the Caribbean area, with vast amounts of goods flowing in and out of the port through an expansive trade network. 

Unfortunately, the glory of Port Royal was short-lived.
  On the morning of June 7th, 1692, a massive earthquake hit Jamaica.  The tremors rocked the sandy peninsula on which the town was built, causing buildings to slide and disappear beneath the sea.  An estimated 2000 Port Royalists were killed immediately in the disaster.  Many more perished from injuries and disease in the following days. 

From 1981 to 1990, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, in cooperation with the Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M University and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, began underwater archaeological investigations of the submerged portion of Port Royal.  The following pages highlight what we have found so far. The last excavation season was in 1990 and no further excavations are planned. 

The last TAMU/INA excavation at Port Royal was conducted in 1990, at present there are no plans to undertake any further excavations.



History of Port Royal

Archaeological Excavations at Port Royal

Historical Research

Simon Benning, Port Royal Pewterer

Artifact Anaylses

Selected Port Royal Publications

Port Royal Archives

Historical Archaeology Course Resources

eXTReMe Tracker Visitors since May 7, 2010


Texas A&M University

Conservation Research Laboratory

Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts

Archaeological Preservation Research Laboratory

Texas A&M Anthropology Department

Texas Historical Commission (THC) 

Texas A&M Nautical Archaeology Program

La Salle Shipwreck Project (THC) 

Institute of Nautical Archaeology    

© 2000 Copyright and All Rights Reserved by Donny L. Hamilton
Last modified Febuary 14th, 2011.

Citation Information:

Donny L. Hamilton
2000, The Port Royal Project, World Wide Web, URL,, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University.

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