Skip to main content

ShipLAB

Director: Filipe Castro, Frederick R. Mayer Professor of Maritime Archaeology

Click here for the Full ShipLAB 2015 portfolio

J. Richard Steffy Ship Reconstruction Laboratory

The ShipLab was created by J. Richard Steffy in 1976 and today is one of the laboratories of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation of the Anthropology Department at Texas A&M University. Our mission is to acquire and disseminate knowledge about shipbuilding through time. As a classroom our main objective is to provide an effective learning environment. As a research laboratory our objective is to facilitate investigation, seek public and private research funds, and recruit and retain quality students for our projects. As an outreach institution we aim at providing in-formation, education, and guidance on the discipline of nautical archaeology and the importance of the world’s submerged cultural heritage, perhaps more than ever threatened by treasure hunting.

 

Research Interests

Computers and the dissemination of knowledge

Archaeologists publish a small percentage (around 25%) of the sites they dig and thus destroy forever. At the ShipLAB we believe that the development of computer science, computer graphics, and the internet, have created an environment which can help promote a paradigm change, allowing archaeologists to survey and record faster and cheaper, and to share their primary data in real time.

Protection of the World’s Submerged Cultural Heritage

A substantial portion of the world’s submerged cultural heritage was destroyed in the last 50 years by treasure hunters. This problem has been a major interest and research subject in the ShipLAB.

Ship Modeling and Computer Graphics

A cooperation between the Department of Visualization, Texas A&M University, and Centre for Marine Technology and Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal.

Iberian Seafaring

The maritime expansion of the late 15th and early 16th centuries had a major impact on European history, although the ships that made it possible are largely unknown to us. The ShipLAB has devoted a considerable time and effort to the study of the people that conceived, built and sailed the ships that first mapped the world, in the end of the Middle Age.

 

 Ongoing Projects

GroPlan – Ontology and Photogrammetry; Generalizing Surveys in Underwater and Nautical Archaeology

Funded by ANR in the framework of “Contenus numériques et interactions” (CONTINT) 2013.

Dir. Pierre Drap

A grant from the French Agence Nacionale de la Recherche titled “Ontology and Photogrammetry; Generalizing Surveys in Underwater and Nautical Archaeology.”  The ShipLAB is a partner to this project (2013-2018).

GroPlan Website

ForSEAdiscovery – Forest Resources for Iberian Empires: Ecology and Globalization in the Age of Discovery

(Funded by the European Commission through FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN – Marie-Curie Action: Initial Training Networks – Grant agreement no. 607545)

Dirs. Ana Crespo Solana and Nigel Nayling

Consists of the development of a dendrochronology database for the Iberian Peninsula.  Marie Curie Multi-ITN project entitled “Forest resources and Ships for Iberian Empires: ecology and globalization in the Age of Discovery.” The ShipLAB is a partner to this project (2013-present).

Click here for the ForSEAdiscovery website!

Iberian Shipbuilding Glossary

Dir. Filipe Castro and Alexandre Monteiro 

A study and inventory of Iberian shipwrecks known to exist (2014-present).

Iberian Shipwreck Scantlings

Dir. Filipe Castro

A study and inventory of the shape and size of the timber components of early modern Iberian ships (2001-present).

Iberian Shipwrecks Database

Dir. Filipe Castro and Alexandre Monteiro

A study and inventory of Iberian shipwrecks known to exist (2001-present).

Modeling the Pepper Wreck

(2012-present),

Dir. Kotaro Yamafune and Filipe Castro

This is a continuation of previous research.

Iberian Ship Treatises Compilation

Dir. Filipe Castro and Alexandre Monteiro

A study and inventory of Iberian shipwrecks known to exist (2014-present).

Finisterre Project, Spain

Dir. Miguel San Claudio

A study and inventory of shipwrecks along in Galician waters (2010-present).

The Ship Iconography Database

Dir. Filipe Castro

This project is a compilation of quality images of ships from the medieval and early modern periods (2007-present).

Sailing the Pepper Wreck

Dir. Filipe Castro and Nuno Fonseca

A continuation of the Pepper Wreck Project, testing the plausibility of our reconstruction of the India nau Nossa Senhora dos Mártires, lost in 1606 (2006-present).

Marine Astrolabes Database

Dir.  Filipe Castro

A study and inventory of all nautical astrolabes known to exist (2005-present).

Early Modern Ships: Architectural Signatures

Dirs. Filipe Castro and Nicholas Budsberg

A study and inventory of the construction features that are unique to certain shipbuilding traditions (2001-present).

The Pepper Wreck Project, Portugal

Dir. Filipe Castro

The excavation and reconstruction of the India nau Nossa Senhora dos Mártires, lost at the mouth of the Tagus River, Lisbon, Portugal, in 1606 (1998-present).

The Cais do Sodré Project, Portugal

Dir. Filipe Castro

Started in 2010, this project is the continuation of the unfinished research on this site, interrupted by the untimely death of its former director, Paulo Jorge Rodrigues (2010-present).

Saveiros da Bahia Project, Brazil

Dir. Filipe Castro and Denise Gomes Dias

The construction of boats following whole molding methods in S. Salvador da Bahia area, Brazil (2011-present).

Battle of Itaparica, Brazil

Dir. Rodrigo Torres

Supported by the Dutch Cultural Agency, this project aims at the reconstruction of the 1643 naval battle fought between a Portuguese and a Dutch fleet in the waters of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (2012-present).

Recreation of the Battle of Itaparica (1648) (by Kotaro Yamafune)

 

The 17th Century Dutch Shipwreck, Utrecht

Siteplan 3D (by Kotaro Yamafune) Lagoa do Peixe, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Dir. Rodrigo Torres

A study of shipbuilding, site formation processes, and shipwreck models on the coast of Rio Grande do Sul.

The Nautical Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Dir. Filipe CastroRichard Fontánez, and Gustavo Garcia.

Survey and an assessment of the condition of the submerged cultural heritage of Puerto Rico (2007-present).

Stella 1 Shipwreck

Dir. Massimo Capulli and Filipe Castro

Started in 2011, is part of a wider study of the life along the Stella River, Italy, over a period of two millennia (2010-present).

Visual Reconstruction of Stella 1 Wreck: A 2000 Year Old Roman Bargen (by Kotaro Yamafune)

 

Asian Boat Models

Dir. Filipe Castro and Kotaro Yamafune

In cooperation with Dr. Hans van Tilburg (NOAA) and Dr. Qu Jinliang (Institute of Maritime Cultures, Ocean University of China), this project aims at sharing two rare Asian boat model collections with the public via the internet (2015-present).

Past Projects

Gnalić Project

Dir. Irena Radić Rossi and Filipe Castro

Started in 2011, the excavation of a large Venetian merchantmen lost off the Croatian coast in 1583 with a cargo bound for Constantinople (2011-2014).

Gnalić 3D 2014 Site Plan (by Kotaro Yamafune)

 

Gnalić Shipwreck Site Visual Tour 2014 Field Season (by Kotaro Yamafune)

 

Gnalić 2014 Teaser (by Javier Rodríguez Pandozi)

 

The Lagos Project, Portugal

Dir. Filipe Castro

A field school in the Lagos area, consisting of a survey of the underwater cultural heritage in the region (2006-2007).

Playa Damas Shipwreck, Panama

Dir. Filipe Castro

A survey of an early 16th century Spanish shipwreck site, unfortunately destroyed by treasure hunters before an excavation could be carried on (2003-2005).

The Arade 1 Project, Portugal

Dir. Filipe Castro

The excavation of a late 16th century vessel found in the 1970s on the mouth of the Arade River (2002-2003).

Oeiras Guns, Portugal

Dir. Filipe Castro

An emergency rescue and relocation of a cluster of iron guns, probably dated to the 18th century (2002).

 

Acknowledgements

The ShipLAB work would not be possible without the sponsor-ship of many persons and institutions. This portfolio belongs to them.

Texas A&M Alumni Dr. Peter and Nancy Amaral have supported the research of countless students for over a decade now, making most of their research possible and setting the base for their professional futures.

Mr. Charles Consolvo has also supported our projects through the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, making the Playa Damas and Puerto Rico projects possible, among many other projects.

The Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A&M University.

The Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

The Luso-American Foundation, for their support of the Lagos project and many other initiatives.

The Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency and Mr. Martijn Manders, for their support of the Utrecht project.

The ProMARE Foundation, Brett and Ayse Phaneuf for their support of the Stella 1 project.

The Soprintendenza per I beni culturali del Friuli Venezia Giulia, and its Soprintendente,

Dr. Luigi Fozzati, for their support of the Stella 1 project.

The De Candido family, for their support of the Stella 1 project.

The Croatian Ministry of Culture, for their support of the Gnalić project.

The University of Zadar, for their support of the Gnalić project.

The Municipality of Biograd, Croatia, for their support of the Gnalić project.

The Portuguese Ministry of Culture, who supported the Pepper Wreck project.

The Municipality of Lagos and Dr. Rui Loureiro, Portugal, for their support of the Lagos project.

The Portimão Marina, for their support of the Arade 1 project.

Mr. George Robb, through the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

The Spain-USA Foundation and Dr. James Goold, for their support of the Playa Damas project.

Andre Thomas and the Thomas Family Trust, for his support of the VizLAB and the Nautical Archaeology Program.

J.-B. Pelletier, Senior Nautical Archaeologist and Remote Sensing Specialist at URS Corporation, who has been teaching our students remote sensing for years now.

Pat Sanders, founder and president of Hypack Inc., Lourdes Evans, and Christian Shaw, for sponsoring our remote sensing courses.