La Belle
The Archaeology of a Seventeenth-Century Vessel of New World Colonization
Nautical Archaeology - Archaeology - History
8.5 x 11, 916 pp.
330 color. 97 b&w photos. 46 maps. 2 figures. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 03/03/2017
Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series
Price:        $95.00 s

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La Belle

The Archaeology of a Seventeenth-Century Vessel of New World Colonization

Edited by James E. Bruseth, Amy A. Borgens, Bradford M. Jones, and Eric D. Ray

In 1995, Texas Historical Commission underwater archaeologists discovered the wreck of La Salle’s La Belle, remnant of an ill-fated French attempt to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River that landed instead along today’s Matagorda Bay in Texas. During 1996–1997, the Commission uncovered the ship’s remains under the direction of archaeologist James E. Bruseth and employing a team of archaeologists and volunteers. Amid the shallow waters of Matagorda Bay, a steel cofferdam was constructed around the site, creating one of the most complex nautical archaeological excavations ever attempted in North America and allowing the archaeologists to excavate the sunken wreck much as if it were located on dry land. The ship’s hold was discovered full of everything the would-be colonists would need to establish themselves in the New World; more than 1.8 million artifacts were recovered from the site.

More than two decades in the making, due to the immensity of the find and the complexity of cataloging and conserving the artifacts, this book thoroughly documents one of the most significant North American archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century.

JAMES E. BRUSETH, retired Archeology Division Director at the Texas Historical Commission, was the project director of the La Belle excavation. AMY A. BORGENS is the State Marine Archeologist in the Archeology Division at the Texas Historical Commission. BRADFORD M. JONES is manager of collections and the curatorial facility certification program in the Archeology Division at the Texas Historical Commission. ERIC D. RAY is the lead interpretive planner for state parks at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Few researchers of post-medieval material culture, whatever their specialties, can afford to ignore this book. . . . This combination of keen young minds at an early stage in their careers with mature and informed mentoring by some of the world's foremost scholars in the field (not just individual supervisors, but the entire faculty was available for consultation), working within a critical academic culture and drawing on the resources of INA has proven highly productive. The outcome was clearly beneficial to all concerned. Scholars from other institutions contributed specialist reports, while the whole enterprise was coordinated and supervised by the Texas Historical Commission.” —International Journal of Nautical Archaeology

“The quality of the publication is excellent. Texas A&M University Press has produced more than just an attractive coffee table book. It is a first-rate scholarly treatise. . . . The editors have presented both debate and detail for the readers to judge for themselves. La Belle: The Archaeology of a Seventeenth-Century Vessel of New World Colonization is important for any serious study of the archaeology of this period in New World history.” —American Antiquity


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