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The State of Florida Archaeological Guidelines specify the archaeological techniques and guidelines to be used within the territorial limits of the State of Florida. These guidelines were attached to all 2001 salvage contracts between Mel Fisher Center, Inc. and the State of Florida with the exception of the contract for the S-32 area. Last year, Mel Fisher Center, Inc. requested the reforming of the Archaeological Guidelines Committee for the purpose of updating the guidelines to reflect advances in technology and archaeological techniques. Due to this request the State of Florida Department of Historical Resources has revised the guidelines. The title of these guidelines has been changed from "1985 Archaeological Guidelines??." to "Archaeological Guidelines For S-23, S-25 and S-26Shipwreck Sites Off The East Coast Of Florida Salvaged Under Contract To The State By The Mel Fisher Center, Inc., Or By Its Subcontractors". The only other changes to the guidelines reflect the advances in technology, namely the use of DGPS instead of sextants for plotting purposes. Included in this section is a copy of those guidelines. The guidelines attached to the S-32 contract were slightly different from all the rest so they are also attached.


Archaeological Guidelines For S-23, S-25 and S-26
Shipwreck Sites Off The East Coast Of Florida
Salvaged Under Contract To The State
By The Mel Fisher Center, Inc., Or By Its Subcontractors

The following guidelines have been prepared in accordance with the Settlement Agreement of June 3, 1983 between the Florida Department of State and Treasure Salvors, Inc., Cobb Coin Company, Inc., Salvors, Inc. and its successor, the Mel Fisher Center, Inc. They specify salvage methods and techniques which will guide collection of archaeological information of wreck sites covered in the above agreement. The purpose of these guidelines is to establish minimum recording standards in order that sound archaeological provenience information can be made available to the salvors, the State, and eventually the public. Generally, the Guidelines are concerned with recording location of excavation activities; provenience of recovered or recorded artifacts; mapping of wreck sites at broad and detailed scales, as appropriate; artifact tagging, handling, security and conservation; and diver safety.

1. DGPS Position Finding
No wreckage will be salvaged until each vessel involved with excavation or artifact recovery is equipped with a differential GPS (DGPS) capable of, and calibrated to, receive a three meter or better (less than three meter) geographic positioning accuracy. The DGPS should be set to the 1983 North American Datum (NAD83). The Division recommends the use of the US Coast Guards differential beacon located at Cape Canaveral for the acquisition of real-time differential position corrections. DGPS readings should be taken in degrees, minutes and decimal minutes to the third decimal place.

2. Data Records
Each boat must have on board at least one person approved by the Division to perform the following tasks:

1. How to use and take accurate readings from a DGPS positioning unit.

2. Understand and use an approved artifact tagging system, which will allow identification and provenience of all recovered artifacts to be maintained.

3. Understand and use an approved data recording system, which will provide an accurate record of boat location, salvage activities, artifacts recovered by tag number and location, and other useful information.

4. The Division and the Salvor will conduct a workshop at the beginning of the field season to instruct crew members in these areas and will be further available throughout the field season to instruct new data recorders, provide refresher training when necessary and assist in data recording.

3. Recording Blower Hole Locations and Contents and Other Large Bottom Features
Locations of blower holes and other large bottom features will be determined by DGPS position finding equipment. To ensure accuracy of recording blower hole locations, the DGPS satellite receiving antenna will be mounted in a standard location on each boat as near to, or preferably over top of the blower. DGPS readings are to be collected while the blower is in operation. Each salvage boat will have and use DGPS. On the field note form, brief descriptions and tag numbers of all artifacts will be recorded for each blower hole so that the tag number is sufficient to determine the provenience of any artifact. Representative and all unusual blower hole profiles will be recorded noting the general order and thickness of recognizable sediments and the location of artifacts, fossils or other useful information. Profiles, which indicate that an earlier blower hole is being reopened, should be noted. When possible a more accurate location description for important artifacts should be recorded, for example, in which quarter of the blower hole and from what sediment. Finally any interpretations of stratification or association which might be useful in understanding the process of artifact scatter and deposition should be noted.

4. Large Non-Structural Artifacts
Large objects like cannon and anchors will be tagged, left in place on the bottom and their geographic location in Latitude North and Longitude West recorded so that they may serve as a mapping and location references in future work. If such large objects interfere with underwater metal detector survey they may be moved to another location on the site with the approval of the Division or the Salvor providing the original and new locations are recorded and mapped. Cannon, anchors, wood structure and other large objects will not be removed from the site unless transfer, storage, and conservation facilities approved by the Division and the Salvor are available.

5. Structural Remains and Major Artifact Clusters
Because structural remains and major artifacts clusters have more important association than scattered material, greater care is required in recording provenience. Structural remains will be photographed when possible, and mapped at 1:50 scale on base maps supplied or approved by the Division to show position of wooden structural members, spikes, and other artifacts as well as details of construction if visible. Detailed maps must specify the coordinate system (latitude/longitude, UTM or State Planes) and North American Datum (NAD 27 or NAD 83) used for compilation. DGPS coordinates (as specified in section 1 above) should be taken as nearly as possible on top of taut buoy lines, which mark mapping reference points (datums) on the bottom. Structural remains will not be moved or undermined unless mapping results have been approved by the Division and the Salvor and unless transfer, storage, and conservation facilities approved by the Division and the Salvor are available.

6. Artifact Tagging
All recovered artifacts will be tagged individually or as a group when from a single provenience except as outlined below. Anchors and cannon recorded and left on the bottom will also be tagged. Tags will be plastic with permanent imprinted numbers and affixed to artifacts or bags of grouped artifacts by stainless steel wire or high test, monofilament, fishing line.
For small or delicate artifacts the tag may be placed in the same sealed protective container as the artifact. Large objects will be individually tagged. Small objects will be individually tagged if they are unique or have special value. Common objects such as pottery sherds, spikes, barrel hoop fragments, musket balls or lead sheathing can be bagged as a group and assigned a single tag number when from the same provenience. Bags will be sufficient strength that they will not tear or break in handling or rot in storage before processing; cloth is recommended.

7. Artifact Handling
Artifacts may be divided into four categories; large objects, such as anchors, cannon, and hull structure; miscellaneous encrusted objects (E.O.&undefined;s); miscellaneous small identified non-precious artifacts; and identified unique or precious artifacts. After tagging and recording, artifacts in each category will be treated as follows:

1. Large Objects: These will be left in place on site until removal is approved by the Division and the Salvor and wet storage facilities are available. Once removed, they should be handled so as to minimize damage and should be kept moist. They must not be allowed to remain out of water more than three days.

2. Miscellaneous Encrusted Objects: These fall into two categories

1. general identifiable non-fragile E.O.s; and,

2. interesting or fragile E.O.s.

The former category will generally include barrel hoops, spikes or general ship&undefined;s hardware. The latter category includes swords, knives, small tools and implements. All E.O.&undefined;s should be kept moist and E.O.&undefined;s in the latter category must be kept moist, while onboard and in transit to the storage and processing laboratory. Ballast stones and coquina rock may be separated from E.O.&undefined;s if their removal will facilitate handling and not break the E.O. E.O.&undefined;s will not be broken open on board; instead they will be processed on shore at the storage and laboratory facility.

3. Common Miscellaneous Small Identified Non-Precious Artifacts: These include such items as pottery sherds, spikes, barrel hoop fragments, musket balls, and lead sheathing. These may be bagged as a group from each blow hole or excavation unit. If iron is included, the bags or objects will be kept moist.

4. Identified Unique or Precious Artifacts: These will be assigned individual tags, unless they are cluster of coins, and placed in individual small plastic bags or protective jars to prevent damage. Unique and precious objects will be photographed at the processing facility and precious objects will be deposited with the bank or other approved facility on the day or evening of their recovery.

8. Artifacts Processing and Stabilization
All artifacts recovered from site are to be conveyed to the artifact processing and stabilization facility. This facility shall have storage and processing capability approved by the Division and the Salvor and will provide sufficient security to ensure the protection of the artifacts, which it receives. In addition to the routine processing of E.O.&undefined;s and other artifacts needing stabilization and/or conservation, all precious artifacts - gold, silver and jewels - and unique artifacts will be photographed and the tag number and provenience data recorded on the photo back prior to being conveyed to the bank or other approved facility for safekeeping. At least two copies of these photographs will be prepared: one for the Division and one for Salvor. Final records and inventories of identified artifacts from each site and excavation unit will be prepared for each vessel&undefined;s activities, and artifact overlay maps compiled at this facility so that results may be available to guide further salvage activities. Copies of all field records will be maintained at this facility during the salvage season and log sheet copies along with artifact photographs submitted to the Salvor and the Division every two weeks.

9. Artifact Conservation
All fragile and unique artifacts of special interest will be sent to the Salvor&undefined;s, Conservation Laboratory in Sebastian, Florida for cleaning, stabilization and conservation/restoration. Interesting encrusted objects should also be sent to Sebastian to be X-rayed as soon as possible after recovery. The Salvor Conservation Laboratory staff and the Division Conservation Laboratory staff will cooperate closely in these activities.

10. Diver Safety
Spinning shafts, high vacuum suction intakes and propellers will be caged while divers are in the water. Dive flags will be displayed and standard dive safety precautions will be followed. NOTE: It is neither within the capability nor responsibility of the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research to concern itself with this aspect of the Salvor&undefined;s operation.

11. Project Supervision
In order to ensure that the quality of information recorded is adequate and that the information is consolidated and interpreted in a professional manner, the Salvor will provide a professional archaeologist and sufficient trained assistants to supervise the number of vessels used in exploration and salvage activities.

12. Reporting Requirements
The Salvor will prepare a report on each site salvaged before the beginning of the next dive season. The Division may assist in these activities. Copies of each report, journal article or manuscript resulting from data derived from salvage and/or exploration activities will be provided to the Division by the Salvor.


On March 3, 1995, a five year permit was issued by the Department of Environmental Protection to perform treasure salvage (artifact recovery) including excavation performed with mailboxes, dredges, prop wash deflectors, etc. within 12 specific sites located in the Atlantic Ocean. Included in this chapter is a copy of that permit. The expiration date of this permit was extended to March 3, 2002. A copy of the letter modifying the expiration date is also included in this chapter. A permit was also issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the same activities and is also included in this chapter.
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