The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 417
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196os led to the creation of the Texas Antiquities Committee and the
establishment of its program in nautical archaeology. The present volume
is the latest in a series of publications by the Committee regarding the
1554 wrecks; earlier publications are Conservation of Metal Objects
from Underwater Sites, by D. L. Hamilton; Texas Legacy from the
Gulf, by D. L. Olds; and Treasure, People, Ships, and Dreams, by J. L.
Davis, the last being a popular statement accompanying a traveling
exhibit which visited the principal cities of Texas.
Like the books of Hamilton and Olds, the present volume is a techni-
cal report. In reality it comprises two separate works, the first of which
is Robert S. Weddle's review of documentary evidence concerning the
wrecked ships. Basing his work largely on Antiquities Committee re-
search in the Spanish archives, Weddle summarizes in considerable de-
tail the whole subject of transatlantic shipping and trade in the middle
sixteenth century. Against this background and through a critical use
of the documents, he takes the reader on the voyage of the ill-fated ships:
their Atlantic crossing, a lengthy sojourn in Vera Cruz, the calamity on
Padre Island, and its aftermath. For students of the early history of
Spanish America and the history of seafaring this is a most valuable sec-
ondary source. For others (including this reviewer, an archaeologist) the
wealth of documentary detail does not prevent it from being a fas-
The second section of the book is J. Barto Arnold's report of the
archaeological investigation of one of the wrecks. The extent and na-
ture of the field work and the evidence derived from it are presented in
adequate detail. The main part of the report is a description of the ma-
terials recovered, with consideration of their significance in the light of
their positions in the wreck and of knowledge from previous research
on both sides of the Atlantic. This is an impressive demonstration of
the way valuable information can be obtained from fragmentary evi-
dence through disciplined field work and analysis.
Appendices by a number of specialists complete the volume, the prin-
cipal subjects being reconstruction of ship design, analysis of fragments
of fabric, procedures of artifact conservation, and identification of the
remains of cockroaches-both Old World and New World cockroach
species were stowaways on the ship.
Regrettably, Arnold and Weddle wrote their respective sections with-
out reference to each other's work, and the book contains no concluding
discussion to pull both aspects of the research together. Nevertheless, the
book is a substantial contribution to the literature on the early history
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/475/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.