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A free event hosted by University of West Florida archaeologists will showcase the most recent discoveries of the 1559 Luna expedition in Pensacola.

The University of West Florida College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Experience will host “Archaeology of the Luna Expedition in Pensacola” on February 1 at the Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola.

Tom Garner holds an artifact discovered at the site of Tristan de Luna’s 1559 settlement in Pensacola. (University of West Florida/Special to the Pulse)

In a panel-style discussion, key personnel involved in the discovery of the Luna settlement near downtown Pensacola will reveal insight into the most recent Luna discoveries. The presentation will convey the significance these discoveries play in Pensacola’s rich cultural history, as well as that of North American colonization.

Tristán de Luna y Arellano led an expedition from Veracruz, Mexico to modern-day Pensacola, Florida in 1559 to begin the Spanish colonization of the northern Gulf Coast. One month after they arrived, the colony was struck by a hurricane, sinking many of their ships and devastating their food supplies.

In 1992, archaeologists from the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research discovered the Emanuel Point I shipwreck in Pensacola Bay; UWF archaeologists continued investigations through 1998 under the direction of Dr. Roger Smith, Florida State Underwater Archaeologist.

Mid-16th century Spanish artifacts have been discovered at the site of Tristan de Luna’s 1559 settlement in Pensacola. (University of West Florida/Special to the Pulse)

In 2006, UWF archaeologists identified a second shipwreck that linked to the Luna expedition, known as Emanuel Point II. Since then, the program has continued making advancements in the Luna discoveries.

In December 2015, The UWF archaeology program announced the identification of the Luna settlement land site. UWF archaeologists recovered numerous sherds of broken 16th century Spanish ceramics found undisturbed beneath the ground surface, linking the site to the Luna expedition.

During the Combined Archaeological Field Methods course in June 2016, the UWF archaeology team detected a magnetic anomaly in an area near the first two Emanuel Point shipwreck sites and the recently-discovered land site for the Luna settlement. That anomaly led to the discovery of a new shipwreck – named Emanuel Point III. UWF archaeologists continue to make advancements on the discoveries.

The UWF archaeology program includes a select group of 13 full-time professional archaeologists, nine support staff and numerous graduate students. The program has a rich history of significant instruction, research and public outreach in the Pensacola region.

Want to go?

  • February 1, 2017
  • Museum of Commerce
  • 201 E. Zaragoza Street, Downtown Pensacola
  • Cost: Free and open to the public
  • Reception: 5:30pm – 6pm
  • Lecture: 6pm- 7pm
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