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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Caribbean - Dominican Republic - ADMAT's Le Casimir Wreck Maritime Project - 2014

Caribbean - Dominican Republic - ADMAT's Le Casimir Wreck Maritime Project - 2014

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2014-07-05
End Date 2014-08-02

Multiple Sessions Yes
Multiple Session information 5th July to 19th July 2014 19th July to 2nd August 2014.
Archaeology Field School Location
ADMAT Maritime Archaeological Centre Monte Cristi Dominican Republic

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution
Anglo-Danish Maritime Archaeological Team (ADMAT) ADMAT-France The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle at Paris, départememt Préhistoire, & UMR-CNRS 7194.
Academic Credit
NAS credit will be given, depending on length of time on the project.
Archaeology Field School Tuition
All the necessary training will be given, as well as lectures. Participants will learn excavation and artefact handling.During the survey, archaeological water dredges will be used to remove the overburden. All the necessary training to use this and other equipment will be given. ADMAT's Underwater Survey Diver Course will be given, which is a PADI speciality. Any NAS members can recieve credit for their work towards NAS Part 2 & 3, via SOS Toronto (Save Ontario Shipwrecks)who teach the NAS courses.
Archaeology Field School Room and Board
Accommodation The project will be based at ADMAT's Maritime Archaeological Centre, in Monte Cristi on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Our Co-Ed facility has: two bunk rooms, with a common room/kitchen in the middle with the usual facilities, cooker, microwave, fridge, freezer and dining table. The tank room houses the inside conservation tanks, the wet lab and office area.  The Centre has sheets, pillows, towels and blankets for the beds, but you should bring two large towels for diving with you. There is a commercial size washing machine and and we hang the washing to dry it. There are no house keepers at the Centre and so all participants will be required to help with basic chores and maintenance and when applicable walk the dogs, which are part of the team. ADMAT hires a local cook. There is a mobile telephone which can receive incoming calls. Internet facilities are currently in town about 5 miles away or the local bars which are a mile away. Food A brief self service breakfast and a packed lunch for on the boat for those going on the boat will be provided. As there are not many local eating locations we will arrange a cook for the evening meals at the Centre. There however a few good local bars.
Archaeology Field School Travel
N/A See website for airport information

Archaeology Field School Description

Le Casimir a French brig which sunk in 1829. See for full information and photographs. In 1998 an initial survey was undertaken which was followed in 2000 and in October 2005. Le Casimir is the name for the shipwreck originally called the Perfume Bottle Wreck which was then shortened to the Perfume Wreck in 1999. For a number of years Dr Spooner analysed the wrecking process on a forensic basis taking all the information apart and reconstructing the event from the archaeological information. When this was completed the Team started researching in the French archives. The archival research was principally undertaken by Florence Prudhomme, and Dr. François Gendron assisted by Sylvie Quéré . After two years of hard research the story was found by the research team. The story confirmed the wrecking process calculations as set out by Dr. Spooner. The wreck is an important French merchant ship which sunk in 1829. Le Casimir was 67 ft long and had a cargo of 120 tons of porcelain, perfume, silks and wine. The central section has previously been destroyed by looters, however our Summer project will be to document the surviving front section of the lower hull. We will be investigating the artefact scatter pattern and the rudder remains to ascertain the original point of impact. Brief History of Le Casimir Wreck: The wreck is located approximately 7 miles to the east of Monte Cristi at the foot of a vertical inner reef in ten metres of water and about 2.5 miles from the uninhabited shore. The location of the wreck compared with the reef system is important, as the reefs hold the key to the wrecking. Some small perfume bottles, in the shape of a scallop shell and a small barrel were found in pockets of sand at the foot of the reef. In 1998 Dr. Spooner believed that there must be more archaeological evidence at the base of the reef to the east of the ballast section. If this ship had impacted broadside to the reef, there was a chance that some artefacts would be buried in the sand pockets at the foot of the reef. Following his instincts hand fanning was undertaken in an area close to the base of the reef. This revealed a cave and a tunnel at the base of the reef. This tunnel proceeded to go upwards inside the reef for about 3.5 meters. In this cave and tunnel, 90 intact perfume bottles, of four designs were found. All were blackened and were filled with sand. This was dubbed the “Bottle Bank” and was covered up again after the bottles were recovered and the position measured in. Further east along the base of the reef an area was located where there was sheet glass window panes stacked against the base of the reef. The majority of panes were still intact. An iron windlass was found to the seaward side of the ballast pile, although this had been moved by storms and was not in its original position and it was raised in 2006. During the late 1999, the centre of the site was extensively looted. The looters had created large amounts of damage. Approximately 14 floors or futtocks had been forcefully removed, in a vain attempt to recover the copper sheeting from the strakes. Some artefacts were removed, because the broken ones were left on site. In addition the entrance to the “Bottle Bank” which was found in 1998 had been totally destroyed, leaving only an interesting coral piece with seven perfume bottles in the coral. Large sections of coral from the reef had been forcefully removed. During this inspection, a broken cylindrical container was found, with a copper name plaque. When conserved the diagnostic plaque revealed valuable information. It stated that the item Bœuf Bouilli had been made by J. Colin from the Rue de la Salorge in Nantes France. Research in France found that this piece had been made by Joseph Colin in his new factory which was built in 1824. In Nantes there still is a Rue de la Salorge and in this road there is the museum to Joseph Colin. An archaeological survey on the Le Casimir started in late July 2000. The objective was to survey the area of the looted section of the wreck site, which had been vandalised the previous year. The research questions were: what was this wreck, what was the nationality, ship’s construction and age? What was the wrecking process pattern? What could the cargo tell us about colonial life? The survey was conducted with the Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS). The first task was to set up a base line and then a 9 X 9m grid with 1 X 1m squares. Once in place, work started by removing large numbers of scattered bricks, which had been removed by the looters from the neat pile as originally found. The bricks were placed in a different location so that they could be replaced on the ballast pile at a later stage. Two water dredges were employed to remove the infill and overburden with tail end screens, which were always manned. The area previously known as the “Bottle Bank” was investigated and confirmed as totally destroyed. The question as to how the perfume bottles got there in the first place was the subject of close examination. The belief being that the ship had smashed on to the reef broadside on the port side and broached, spilling the cargo on to the reef and in the reef gullies. Any tunnels or exposed caves would have quickly filled with artefacts only to be covered by sand and broken coral. This hypothesis would explain the reason of the original “Bottle Bank” had evolved but needed testing. The only way to test this was to find another “Bottle Bank”. By searching along the foot of the reef looking for sand “build ups” at the base of the reef, a new bottle bank was found and the hypothesis proved. This cave contained hundreds of intact perfume bottles of different designs. Two bottles were found concreted to the upper mouth of the tunnel In October 2005, when the ADMAT team arrived at the site to continue the archaeological survey, they noticed that looters had again attacked. The damage to the remains was extensive. The lower hull surveyed in 2000, was totally missing and had been destroyed probably by explosives. A number of broken artefacts were located as well as a few intact ones. Sections of the reef where the second bottle bank was had been eradicated as well as other sections. The perfume bottles were the main item found giving the wreck the original name to this wreck. So far eight different designs have been found. Some of the designs of perfume bottles were elaborate and had embossed in the design “DR” which was likely the manufacturer’s initials. Dr. Gendron-Badou visited Professor Fröhlich, Director of the Centre of Infrared Spectroscopy at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. From a series of tests on the “DR” bottles it was proved that they were up to 70% lead crystal. From the archaeological evidence and clues we put forward the following: the ship was sailing from the east to the west, probably via Puerto Plata to or Cap Haitian. It must have been sailing at night otherwise the crew would have seen the breakers on the reef. This is puzzling as only a very experienced or foolhardy captain would navigate this treacherous coastline at night so close inshore. Looking at the reef pattern and the positioning of the remains, it is clear that the ship must have clipped the outer reef. This caused structural damage resulting in the loss of the rudder, causing loss of steerage and the ship was doomed. This would be the logical place where the anchors should have been deployed, as they have not been located on the immediate wreck site and as yet have not been found. At the same time as the loss of the rudder, a breach in the lower hull occurred due to an impact with the reef which started to spew out ballast bricks which created an artefact scatter pattern. The ship was then sucked into the channel between the inner and middle reef. A further impact probably on the port bow, causing the cargo of bottles to spill out of hole on the amidships port side. The ship was then pushed onto the side of the reef, creating massive damage to the reef followed by a third impact which this time broke the keel of the ship and she immediately flooded and sunk.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type
Maritime, Underwater, Nautical, Marine
Time Period
Post Columbus to 1829
Field School Setting/Conditions
Diving The projects are on the basis of 2 weeks per session. If weather permits it should be possible to have two tank dives during the morning, with about 40 mins each dive. Le Casimir Wreck is located at about 8-10 metres deep. Diving computers are required or divers will be limited to BSAC88 Tables. Diving conditions are simple and usually there are not any strong currents and there will not be any over-head local boat traffic. However as the wreck is situated at the base of a reef and visibility is varied, and some times during our work very low due to the clay sand bottom. As the divers will be surfacing close to the reef, they will have to swim away from the reef to the boats. As the team is going out to the site in local small boats, anyone who suffers from seasickness should bring the usual medication. The average boat ride will be just over an hour each way. The ADMAT Diving Officer will be responsible for the diving. Full compliance with his instructions will be required.  Due to Health and Saftey it is a requirement that all students speak and read English. Participants must have the following certification as a minimum, either: PADI Advanced Open Water, or BSAC Sports Diver (or the equivalent under another agency). Members will be required to send copies of their diving qualifications with their booking. Original log books or certification cards must be presented to the ADMAT Diving Officer on arrival. In addition the medical statement must also be presented upon arrival.
How is the project area accessed each day
By open local boats.
What is the daily schedule for the field school
See ADMAT's web page
Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation
since 2003
Is there a professional certification for this field school
ADMAT certification on its unique courses will be given as well as NAS credits to existing NAS members (who will be required to join SOS Toronto chapter).
Directors and Instructors
Dr. Simon Spooner Dr. Francois Gendron Raimund Krob
Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn
Underwater surveying Underwater excavation Artefact handling
On rain days will there be lab work?
Yes the Team will be documenting artefacts from the french armed merchantship we call the Tile Wreck which sunk betweeen 1720-24.
Will there be additional organized activities?
Other wreck sites may be visited subject to weather.
Will there be additional organized activities?

Other resources students will find useful
Please see ADMAT's web site to see other projects, nearly 6,000 photographs and many newsletters of our work over the last decade.

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Dr Simon Spooner E mail: Tel: +1-902-347-2290 Canada Atlantic Time

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