From a Watery Grave
The Discovery and Excavation of La Salle's Shipwreck, La Belle
American History - Nautical Archaeology
8.5 x 11, 176 pp.
126 color photos., 13 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 03/07/2005
  cloth
Price:        $39.95

978-1-58544-347-5
  paper
Price:        $24.95

978-1-58544-431-1
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2009 James Deetz Book Award, presented by the Society for Historical Archaeology
 
2006 Book Award, presented by the Society of American Archaeology

2006 Deolece Parmelee Award, presented by the Texas Historical Foundation 
 
2005 Presidio la Bahía Award, presented by The Sons of the Republic of Texas

 

From a Watery Grave

The Discovery and Excavation of La Salle's Shipwreck, La Belle

By James E. Bruseth and Toni S. Turner
Foreword by T. R. Fehrenbach

On a frigid, stormy day in February of 1686, a small French sailing ship lost control and ran aground in Matagorda Bay. The crew had braved an ocean voyage, attacks by pirates, raids by Native Americans, and ravaging diseases under the command of famed explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, hoping to establish a colony in the New World. Pounded in the Texas bay by gale winds and storm surges, La Belle finally slipped beneath the water and sank to the bottom, where it would remain for centuries.

More than 300 years later, Texas Historical Commission archaeologists discovered La Belle’s resting place. Using cutting-edge technology and scientific innovation, investigators excavated the shipwreck and salvaged from its watery grave more than a million artifacts, including bronze guns, muskets, trade beads, axes, rings, bells, dishes, medicines—everything a new-world colony needed for survival.

Authors James E. Bruseth and Toni S. Turner use vivid photographs and engaging descriptions to share the excitement of discovery as they piece together both the ship and its tragic story. For those interested in history, archaeology, or the quest for clues to the past, From a Watery Grave tells a riveting tale of nautical adventure in the seventeenth century and reveals modern scientific archaeology at its best.

James E. Bruseth is director of the archaeology division at the Texas Historical Commission, which sponsored the excavation of La Belle. Bruseth directed the excavation and serves as the project’s principal investigator.Toni S. Turner is a freelance writer and fund raiser who assisted in many aspects of the recovery of the shipwreck.

What Readers Are Saying:

From a Watery Grave represents a solid and lasting triumph of nautical archaeology. James E. Bruseth and Toni S. Turner tell the amazing story of how a dedicated team of scientists and researchers rose to the challenge of preserving the fragile remains of La Salle’s 300-year-old ship La Belle–from the innovative planning and building of the coffer dam to enable excavation on “dry” land through the dismantling, transporting, and reassembly of the ship’s hull. Truly an astounding analysis of the rarest of finds–a ship laden with the items needed for founding a colony in seventeenth century America, from trade beads to buttons, carpenter tools to cannons–the report stands as a high-water mark to be striven for in all such efforts in the future.”--Robert S. Weddle, author of The Wreck of the Belle, the Ruin of La Salle

“Their book tells the story of the La Salle expedition and colony in Texas in a way that it has never been told before. . . . the book is like having a museum at your fingertips.” --Victoria Advocate

“The authors provide an informative, succinct history of La Salle’s expedition that places the voyage in the context of late 17th-century world events, vividly describing the exciting discovery of the sunken ship and many of the nearly one million artifacts found by archaeologists. . . . this important contribution to archaeology is essential for all university archaeological collections and Texas public and school libraries.” --Library Journal

“It reads like a good detective story with a happy ending.” --American Archaeology

From a Watery Grave is a fascinating adventure story, told in straightforward language, free of scientific jargon.” --Dallas Morning News,

“The Texas A&M University Press has gathered all this into a sumptuous volume worthy of the events it describes.” --Dallas Morning News

“Bruseth and Turner’s narrative provides fascinating details about the search for the ship and the preservation of La Belle’s marvelous bounty of artifacts.” --Texas Books in Review

“More presentations of this nature are needed if academic nautical archaeology is to gain the public respect it deserves. This is a first-class project report that even a general audience can appreciate.” --Nautical Research Journal

“From a Watery Grave is itself a treasure, one that will elegantly grace coffee tables while also enriching academic libraries.” --Heritage

"Can be recommended unreservedly to both the general reader and the nautical specialist...a wider public will learn from it just how worthwhile and interesting properly-conducted nautical archaeology can be." --Nautical Archaeology

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