SEBASTIAN — Searching around undersea boulders, shipwreck salvager Eric Schmitt spotted a glint of gold beneath a heap of shells, sand and stones on the ocean floor.
Then Schmitt started hollering expletives of surprise and joy — underwater.
With his right thumb and pointer finger, the scuba diver gently pulled out the back half of a gold filigree pendant. The high-karat religious artifact was lost when a doomed Spanish treasure ship sank in a fierce hurricane in 1715 off the coast of modern-day Fort Pierce. Read more.
A team of archaeologists unveiled plans Thursday morning to embark on an oceangoing expedition to find the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault, which sank 449 years ago in a hurricane off Florida’s Atlantic coast.
And they have a pretty good idea where to look: Artifacts from the camps of survivors near the Canaveral National Seashore provide valuable clues.
Finding the fleet would be momentous, Chuck Meide, the expedition’s principal investigator, said in a prepared statement before the 10 a.m. announcement at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.
“If these ships hadn’t gone down in a hurricane, the entire history of the First Coast, and that of our country, would be dramatically different,” he said. Read more.
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Archaeologists are excited about rock at the Mission of Nombre de Dios is St. Augustine.
They’re working on a dig to know more about what is believed to be the first stone church in St. Augustine and possibly in Florida.
Just feet away from the Great Cross in St. Augustine, stone foundations of walls are visible on the dig site.
The church was built in 1677 by the Spanish. No one really knows what it looked like.
Linda Chandler, a University of Florida Archaeology Tech, explained all the excitement boils down to construction materials. Read more.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Prehistoric shell mounds found on some of Florida’s most pristine beaches are at risk of washing away as the sea level rises, wiping away thousands of years of archaeological evidence.
"The largest risk for these ancient treasure troves of information is sea level rise," said Shawn Smith, a senior research associate with the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University.
But a joint project between Smith and the National Park Service is drawing attention to the problem to hopefully minimize the impact on the state’s cultural sites. Read more.
This Thursday, Americans will gather around groaning tables to consume massive amounts of turkey, gravy, potatoes and stuffing. It’s a tradition the country associates with a Pilgrim feast in the 1600s, but actually, 2013 marks only the 150th anniversary of official Thanksgiving.
The “First Thanksgiving” taught to schoolchildren around the country dates back to 1621, when the Calvinist settlers of Plymouth Colony, better known as the Pilgrims, got together with the Wampanoag tribe for a fall harvest festival.
In fact, harvest festivals date back further than that. Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles got together with Native Americans in St. Augustine, Fla., on Sept. 8, 1565, for a Catholic mass and a feast of thanksgiving, giving Florida a claim to the “first Thanksgiving” title. Read more.
To the untrained eye, many of the hundreds of artifacts pulled in recent months from a Florida spring in the Chassahowitzka River look like stuff nobody wanted to buy at a yard sale: old bottles, an antler, broken pieces of a plate, a toy cap gun, a bowl, a fishhook, pins.
But to archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot, who oversaw a five-month project that pulled hundreds of such items from a 2 1/2-acre field of muck as deep as 25 feet below the surface of the spring, they are much more.
"We found an amazing array of artifacts that basically represent every period of human occupation in Florida," he told CNN in a telephone interview. Read more.
A family of life-long treasure hunters has just made their largest discovery, long lost Spanish gold.
Rick Schmitt and his family have been active treasure hunters for decades, with their largest bounty valued at $25,000 found back in 2002.
This time they found three pounds of gold chains, five gold coins and a gold ring estimated to be worth $300,000. The bounty was found 15 feet under water near the coast of Fort Pierce, Florida while they were aboard their “AARRR Booty” boat.
It is believed the gold treasure is some 300 years old and came from one of the 11 Spanish galleon ships that went down during hurricane season back in July, 1715. Read more.
Glass-bottomed boats, alligator wrestling and snake milking, aided by the lure of some of the purest water on the planet, built Silver Springs’ fame as a tourist spot in the middle of the last century.
Now, scientists apparently have uncovered a treasure trove of buried materials that indicate — or perhaps confirm — the renowned site’s crystal clear waters were a draw for visitors long before the first modern tourists arrived.
University of Florida archaeologists surveying the property suggest the preliminary findings they have recorded could land Silver Springs on the roster of America’s most historically significant venues. Read more.