Results of these preliminary investigations at the Emanuel Point Ship, carried out between October 1992 and February 1993, led to several conclusions. The well-preserved shipwreck is one of the earliest found in Florida’s waters. Dating from the First Spanish Period (1513-1763), the site could be associated with the first European attempts to colonize Florida, perhaps even the remains of a vessel lost during the Luna expedition of 1559. Located near shore, in a region of the state noted for its historical attractions, the shipwreck site and its contents should be developed and interpreted in a cooperative effort for the public benefit. Opportunities for research and publication, in conjunction with a long-term project, would attract scholars and students from a number of academic disciplines.
With these initial considerations in mind, a research strategy for additional investigation of the site was developed. The plan called for further test excavations at specific locations of the site to determine the extent and document features of the ship’s hull, and to determine the cause of the vessel’s wrecking and the mechanics of its subsequent disintegration. Aside from the remains of the ship, its contents would be studied to determine where it came from, what its career had been, and why it came to be in Pensacola. Cultural clues to the people who lived and worked aboard the ship, from the time it first set sail, would be analyzed to learn more about early maritime customs that were adapted from Europe to the Americas.
Research strategy also called for a highly public investigation to involve university students and private volunteers in both field and laboratory procedures. A university field school and graduate student intern program were organized, and a system of volunteer registration and orientation was devised. A conservation laboratory, dedicated to the shipwreck, would be established in Pensacola to analyze and treat artifacts and to prepare them for local exhibition. Project activities were to be accompanied by public lectures and presentations, workshops, and laboratory tours. Media was to be given access to the project’s operations to help to share the progress of the investigation with the public. Periodic public and professional publications were scheduled, and a major exhibition of shipwreck materials was planned.