The ShipLab was created by J. Richard Steffy in 1976 and today is one of the laboratories of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation of the Anthropology Department at Texas A&M University. Our mission is to acquire and disseminate knowledge about shipbuilding through time. As a classroom our main objective is to provide an effective learning environment.
As a research laboratory our objective is to facilitate investigation, seek public and private research funds, and recruit and retain quality students for our projects. As an outreach institution we aim at providing in-formation, education, and guidance on the discipline of nautical archaeology and the importance of the world's submerged cultural heritage, perhaps more than ever threatened by treasure hunting.

“At the University of Chicago I also was lucky enough to go through a general education programme devised by Robert M. Hutchins, where science was presented as an integral part of the gorgeous tapestry of human knowledge. It was considered unthinkable for an aspiring physicist not to know Plato, Aristotle, Bach, Shakespeare, Gibbon, Malinowski and Freud - among many others.”

Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World


Filipe Vieira de Castro is Professor of Anthropology, holds the Frederick R. Mayer II Fellowship of Nautical Archaeology, and is the Director of the Ship Reconstruction Laboratory at Texas A&M University. He has a degree in civil engineering from Lisbon's Instituto Superior Técnico, a Master of Business Administration from the Catholic University of Lisbon, and a PhD in Anthropology from Texas A&M University. He has conducted field work in Portugal, Panama, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Italy, and Croatia, and his main interests are the history of wooden shipbuilding technology and European seafaring in the late medieval and early modern periods.

Research Interests

Technological advance is changing archaeology rapidly, both becoming a more rigorous discipline, supported by an array of developing technologies, and moving towards more participated practices, divulging its discoveries to increasingly larger and more diverse publics. In the ShipLAB we see archaeology as a source of ideas that may help us better understand the diversity of the human experience. As archaeology abandons its western biases and turns into a diverse and cosmopolitan discipline, practiced around by local archaeologists the world, we try to cooperate with other disciplines to create ways of sharing our data as widely as possible, in order to collectively address the main questions of anthropology: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? and What can we know?

Computer Graphics

Archaeologists publish a small percentage (around 25%) of the sites they dig and thus destroy forever. We believe that a combination of computer science, art, computer graphics, and the internet, are tools that can make archaeologists’ messages exciting, compelling and eloquent. FitzFim (2018)

Ship Modeling

This project started as a cooperation between the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University and the Centre for Marine Technology and Engineering, at Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal, and aims at creating better 3D models to explain the survey, recording, and reconstructing processes.

Submerged Cultural Heritage

A substantial portion of the world's submerged cultural heritage was destroyed in the last 50 years by treasure hunters. This problem has been a major interest and research subject in the ShipLAB.Treasure hunting is a vile activity, as disgraceful as the destructions perpetrated by Islamic terrorists in the Middle East. Every shipwreck they destroy disappears forever with all the stories of the peoples that thought, built, sailed, and lost it.

Iberian Seafaring

The maritime expansion of the late 15th and early 16th centuries had a major impact on European history, although the ships that made it possible are largely unknown to us. The ShipLAB has devoted a considerable time and effort to the study of the people that conceived, built and sailed the ships that first mapped the world, in the end of the Middle Age.



Dead Ships And Live Culture In Coastal Communities (2018-2020)

Collaborator. Development of a comprehensive geographic and archaeological resource that will support researchers, government agencies, and cultural agencies to better understand the relationships between society and ships, using tools and techniques from Digital Libraries, Geographic Information Systems, and Phylogenetics. PI: Dr. Richard Furuta. ($100,000).

iMARECULTURE (2016-2020)

Participant (through Universidade Nova de Lisboa). H2020 European Commission Research and Innovation Grant entitled Advanced VR, iMmersive serious games and Augmented REality as tools to raise awareness and access to European underwater CULTURal heritage. PI: Dr. Dimitrios Skarlatos (2,644,025 €).

ForSEAdiscovery (2013-2017)

Associated partner. Marie Curie Multi-ITN project entitled Forest resources and Ships for Iberian Empires: ecology and globalization in the Age of Discovery. PI: Dr. Ana Crespo Solana and Dr. Nigel Nayling (3,904,166 €).

GROPLAN (2013-2018)

Partner. Agence Nationale de Recherches – Programme Contenus Numèriques et etInteractions : Généralisation du Relevé, avec Ontologies et Photogrammétrie, pour l'Archéologie Navale et Sous-marine. PI : Dr. Pierre Drap, LSIS/CNRS, France, (720,942.88 €).

Nautical Archaeology Digital Library (2005-2008)

Co-PI. An Informatics Framework to Support Scholarly Field Studies: The Nautical Archaeology Digital Library. NSF-IIS-0534314 Grant. PI: Dr. Richard Furuta ($750,000).
Carlos Monroy PhD Dissertation (2010).


Ribadeo Shipwreck (2018-present)

Participation in the excavation and study of the Ribadeo Shipwreck.PI: Dr. Miguel San Claudio
Sketchfab (2014)

Highbourne Cay Shipwreck (2016-present)

The study, excavation, recording and reconstruction of an early 16th century shipwreck in the Bahamas.
PIs: Nicholas Budsberg and Filipe Castro

Belinho 1 Shipwreck (2015-present)

Excavation of a 16th century shipwreck at Belinho beach, Esposende, Portugal.
PIs: Filipe Castro and Ana Almeida

Cais do Sodré Shipwreck (2002-present)

Recording and reconstruction of a 16th century shipwreck found in Lisbon, Portugal.
PI: Filipe Castro (since 2010).

Utrecht (2012-2015)

Survey of a 17th century Dutch shipwreck at Bahia, Brazil.
PI: Rodrigo Torres.

Gnalić Shipwreck (2011-2014)

Excavation of a 16th century shipwreck at Gnalić, Croatia.
PIs: Irena Radić Rossi and Filipe Castro

Stella 1 Shipwreck (2010-2015)

Excavation of a Roman barge at Palazzolo dello Stella, Italy.PIs: Massimo Capulli and Filipe Castro

H.M.S. Solebay (2009-2015)

Survey and recording of a 18th century shipwreck site in Nevis, West Indies. Chris Cartellone PhD Dissertation (2015).

Playa Damas Shipwreck (2003-2005)

Survey of a 16th century shipwreck at Playa Damas, Panama.PI: Filipe Castro.

Arade 1 Shipwreck (2002-2003)

Excavation of a 16th century shipwreck on the Arade River mouth, Portugal.PIs: Francisco Alves and Filipe Castro

Oeiras Guns (2002)

Emergency rescue and relocation of a cluster of iron guns, tentatively dated to the 18th century.PI: Filipe Castro

Pepper Wreck (1995-2015)

Excavation of a 17th century shipwreck at São Julião da Barra, Lisbon, Portugal.PI: Filipe Castro


Saveiros da Bahia (2013-present)

Study of traditional ship design techniques in the Bahia area, Brazil.PI: Filipe Castro

Indianola Maritime Landscape (2015-present)

Study of the history of the human occupation of Indianola and the surrounding coastal area.
Samuel Cuellar PhD Dissertation (in progress).

Antigua Maritime Landscape (2015-present)

Chain of Supply: A Geospatial Analysis of Inland Trade Routes on the Island of Antigua during the Atlantic Maritime Sugar Trade.
Arik Bord MA Thesis (in progress).

São Lourenço do Sul, Brazil: Identity and Memory (2013-2016)

Study of the formation of identity and the politics of memory and amnesia in a maritime community divided by ethnic differences.
Samila Ferreira PhD Dissertation (2016). [link]

Finisterre Project (2010-2015)

Study and inventory of shipwrecks in Galician waters.PI: Dr. Miguel San Claudio.

Rincón Shipwreck (2004-2010)

Survey and an assessment of the condition of the Rincón Shipwreck, on the western coast of Puerto Rico. PIs: Filipe Castro, Richard Fontánez, and Gustavo Garcia. Gustavo Garcia MA Thesis (2005).

The Nautical Archaeology of Puerto Rico (2007-2011)

Survey and an assessment of the condition of the submerged cultural heritage on the northern coast of Puerto Rico.
PIs: Filipe Castro, Richard Fontánez, and Gustavo Garcia.

The Lagos Project, Portugal (2006-2007)

Survey and an assessment of the condition of the submerged cultural heritage in the waters of Lagos, Portugal.
PI: Filipe Castro

Panama Maritime Landscape (2005-2012)

The Key to All the Indies: Defense of the Isthmus of Panama. Bryanna Dubard MA Thesis (2013).

History of Wooden Shipbuilding

Early Modern European Shipwrecks Database (2001-present)

A study and inventory of Archaic, Classic, Medieval, and Modern shipwrecks to be shared online.

Early Mediterranean Shipbuilding (2016-present)

Funded by iMARECULTURE, this project consists of an inventory, study and proposed taxonomy for a large portion of published archaeological remains of hulls found in the Mediterranean and dating to the Pre-Classical to the medieval periods. PIs: Carlos de Juan and Filipe Castro

Early Modern European Shipbuilding (2016-present)

This project consists of an inventory of the most important architectural signatures found in archaeological remains of European early modern shipwrecks. PIs: Filipe Castro and Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche.

Iberian Shipbuilding Glossary (2015-present)

Development of a shipbuilding glossary in six languages to be shared online .2014-Present.

Ship Iconography Database (2007-present)

Compilation of quality images of ships from the medieval and early modern periods to be shared online.
Demo 1      Demo 2

Ship Sizes and Scantlings (2001-present)

A study and inventory of the shape and size of the timber components of early modern ships.

Iberian Shipbuilding in the 17th century (2016-present)

A survey, inventory, analysis and taxonomy of Iberian shipwrecks from the 17th century. Rocardo Borrero’s PhD Dissertation (in progress).

Iberian Shipbuilding and Oceanic Navigation (2016-present)

Study of the shipbuilding characteristics of Iberian ocean going ships.
Charles Bendig PhD Dissertation (in progress).

French Shipbuilding in the 17th and 18th centuries (2016-present)

A study of late 17th and early 18th centuries shipbuilding traditions in France, in its political context.
Marijo Bérubé PhD Dissertation (in progress).

Exploring a Shipwreck with Augmented Reality (2017)

A virtual model developed by Troy Edwards, Josh Higginbotham, Humayun Syed, and Mitchel Blowey, under the orientation of Dr. Bruce Gooch (Dep.of Computer Science).

A Virtual Visit of the Pepper Wreck (2016-2017)

A virtual model developed by VizLab students Josh Hooton, Jacob Stafford, Cody Leuschner, Thomas Sell, under the orientation of Dr. Bruce Gooch (Dep. of Computer Science).
Demo 1      Demo 2

Procedural Modeling (2015-2017)

In cooperation with the VizLab, development of a parameterized model of a 16th century ship and exploring the possibility of defining 3D hull shapes using Houdini software. Matt Suarez MS Thesis (VizLab 2017).
Chair: Dr. Frederic Parke.
Demo 1      Demo 2

Study of Manoel Fernandez 1616 Treatise on Shipbuilding (2010-present)

Analysis and interpretation of the recipes for the construction of vessels.

A Parametric Model of the Portuguese Nau (2010-2011)

In cooperation with the VizLab, development of parametric models of early modern ships and analysis of shape and capacity using AutoDesk Maya software.
Charles Justus Cook MS Thesis (2011). Chair: Dr. Frederic Parke.

Reverse Naval Architecture of Vasa (2008-2014)

Development of a 3D model of the Swedish 17th century warship Vasa and analysis of some of its design and construction characteristics.
Kelby Rose PhD Dissertation (2014).

Vettor Fausto (2006-2010)

A study of Vettor Fausto (1490-1546), Professor of Greek and Naval Architect: a New Light on the 16th-Century Manuscript Misure Di Vascelli Etc. di… Proto Dell ’ Arsenale di Venetia.
Lilia Campana MA Thesis (2010).

Virtual Reconstruction of a Seventeenth-Century Portuguese Nau (2006-2008)

Development of a 3D model of a 17th century Indiaman based on the archaeological data recovered at the Pepper Wreck shipwreck site.
Audrey Wells MS Thesis (2008). Chair: Dr. Frederic Parke.

Sailing the Pepper Wreck (2006-2012)

Development of computer models to simulate the sailing voyage of a Portuguese Indiaman from Lisbon to Cochin.
In cooperation with Dr. Nuno Fonseca (Instituto Superior Técnico).

Virtual Reconstruction of a Venetian Galley (2005-2012)

The Venetian Galley of Flanders: from Medieval 2 Dimensional Treatises to 21stCentury 3- Dimensional Model.
Courtney Higgins MA Thesis (2012).

Reconstruction of a 15th Century Venetian Round Ship (2005-2009)

Transitions in Medieval Mediterranean Shipbuilding: A Reconstruction of the Nave Quadra of the Michael of Rhodes Manuscript.
Vincent Valenti MA Thesis (2009).

Pantano Longarini Shipwreck (2004-2007)

Reanalysis of the archaeological data pertaining to the Pantano Longarini Shipwreck, Italy.
Sarah Kampbell MA Thesis (2007).

History and development of Caravels (2003-2008)

A survey of the literature and archaeology of early modern lateen sailors and caravels in western Europe.
George Schwartz MA Thesis (2008).

Ordenanzas of 1607, 1613, and 1618 (2003-2008)

Study of the standardization of shipbuilding in 17th century Spain. The Ordenanzas para la Fabrica de Navios de Guerra y Mercante from 1607, 1613, and 1618. Blanca Rodriguez MA Thesis (2008).

Santo António de Tanna (2002-2007)

A tentative reconstruction of the hull of the Mombasa shipwreck based on the archaeological data.
Tiago Fraga MA Thesis (2007).

Virtual Reconstruction of a 16th Indiaman (2001-2007)

Virtual reconstruction of the nao of the Livro Nautico, which entailed the interpretation of this manuscript, and the development of a 3D model.
Alex Hazlett PhD Dissertation (2007).

Diego Garcia de Palacio (1999-2008)

Study of Diego Garcia de Palacio’s life and his Instrucción Náutica (1587), an Early Nautical Handbook from Mexico.
Erika Laanela MA Thesis (2008).

Asian Seafaring

Asian Ship Models (2016-present)

Inventory and study of two collections of ship models from Texas A&M University for online publication.
PI: Filipe Castro
Sketchfab (2017)

Namban Screens (2009-2012)

A study of the production of the Namban screens in the context of the Portuguese century in Japan.
Kotaro Yamafune MA Thesis (2012)

Ancient Ships of Japan (2004-2006)

A survey of the archaeological record in Japan and a taxonomy of the early watercraft of Japan.
Hiroaki Miyashita MA Thesis (2006).

Kublai Khan Shipwrecks (2002-2008)

The Origin of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire.
Randall Sasaki MA Thesis (2008).

Material Culture

Analysis of a Collection of Civil War Artifacts (2015-present)

Inventory, treatment, analysis and history of a collection of artifacts dating to the American Civil War.
Joshua Farrar PhD Dissertation (in progress).

Marine Astrolabes Database (2001-present)

A study and inventory of all nautical astrolabes known to exist. 2005-Present.
PI: Filipe Castro

Dutch Ship Pharmacies (2008-2014)

Inventory and study of published remains of Dutch ship pharmacies and life aboard in the Dutch Golden Age.
Coral Eginton MA Thesis (2014).

Port Royal Wrought Iron Tools (2000-2004)

A study of a collection of hand tools from the 1692 underwater archaeological excavations of colonial Port Royal, Jamaica.
Katie Custer MA Thesis (2004).

Method and Theory

Predictive Models for Shipwreck Location (2016-2017)

A GIS-based study of predictive models for the localization of shipwrecks.
Kelsey Rooney MS Thesis (2017)

Florida Log Boats (2016-2017)

Inventory, taxonomy and geospatial analysis of Pre-Columbian Florida log boats.
Raphael Franca MS Thesis (2017).

Virtual Reconstruction of a Group of Houses from Port Royal, Jamaica (2016-2017)

Raising Port Royal: A Geospatial Reconstruction of the 1692 City Through Integrated GIS and 3D Modeling.
Chesea Cohen MS Thesis (2017).

Data Mining (2015-2016)

In cooperation with the Department of Computer Science, a case study with media references about looted or illegally sold cultural heritage.
Yeu Yan MS Thesis (2016). Chair: Dr. Richard Furuta.

Identifying and cross verifying Expertise (2015-2016)

In cooperation with the Department of Computer Science, a study of identifying and cross-verifying subject matter expertise within LinkedIn.
Sanghita Bandyopadhyay MS Thesis (2016). Chair: Dr. Richard Furuta.

Methodology to Record and Analyze Underwater Shipwreck Sites (2012-2015)

A systematic study of the best practices to record shipwrecks using off the shelf photogrammetry software Agisoft PhotoScan.
Kotaro Yamafune PhD Dissertation (2015).

Site Formation Process Analysis (2010-2015 )

The archaeology of shore stranded shipwrecks of southern Brazil.
Rodrigo Torres PhD, Dissertation (2015).

Treasure Hunting (2006-2013)

Three cases studies.
Laura Gongaware MA Thesis (2013).

Cultural Information from Ship Timbers (2006-2010)

A survey of the literature pertaining to the study of cultural information from ship timbers, from forestry practices to shipbuilding techniques.
Paul Creasman PhD Dissertation (2006).

Batten Lug Sails (2002-2006)

Influence and Evolution: a study of the development of batten lug sails in Europe and in Asia.
Timothy Kane MA Thesis (2006).


The ShipLAB work would not be possible without the sponsor-ship of many persons and institutions.
Texas A&M Alumni Dr. Peter and Nancy Amaral have supported the research of countless students for over a decade now, making most of their research possible and setting the base for their professional futures.
Mr. Charles Consolvo has also supported our projects through the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, making the Playa Damas and Puerto Rico projects possible, among many other projects.
The Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A&M University.
The Institute of Nautical Archaeology.
The Luso-American Foundation, for their support of the Lagos project and many other initiatives.
The Spain-USA Foundation and Dr. James Goold, for their support of the Playa Damas project.
The Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency and Mr. Martijn Manders, for their support of the Utrecht project.
The ProMARE Foundation, Brett and Ayse Phaneuf for their support of the Stella 1 project.
The Soprintendenza per I beni culturali del Friuli Venezia Giulia, and its Soprintendente,
Dr. Luigi Fozzati, for his support of the Stella 1 project.
The De Candido family, for their support of the Stella 1 project.
The Croatian Ministry of Culture, for its support of the Gnalić project.
The University of Zadar, for their support of the Gnalić project.
The Municipality of Biograd, Croatia, for their support of the Gnalić project.
The Portuguese Ministry of Culture, who supported the Pepper Wreck project.
The Portimão Marina, for their support of the Arade 1 project.
Andre Thomas and the Thomas Family Trust, for his support of the VizLAB and the Nautical
Archaeology Program.
J.-B. Pelletier, Senior Nautical Archaeologist and Remote Sensing Specialist at URS
Corporation, who has been teaching our students remote sensing for years now.
Pat Sanders, founder and president of Hypack Inc., Lourdes Evans, and Christian Shaw, for
sponsoring our remote sensing courses.
The Municipality of Lagos and Dr. Rui Loureiro, Portugal, for their support of the Lagos project.
The Municipality of Vila do Conde.
The Municipality of Esposende.
The Municipality of Alcácer do Sal.