Fig. 28. Square fasteners of different shank sizes were used in the construction of the ship
One of the largest single artifact categories in the Emanuel Point collection is iron fasteners (clavazon), numbering more than 500 examples. Some are whole, but show stress and distortion caused by the ship’s wrecking and subsequent disarticulation; others, including many of the smaller fasteners, are broken and fragmentary examples. All fasteners are heavily encrusted with corrosion products, and most have lost their original metal composition. After over four centuries of submersion, the iron has converted to a black iron-sulfide slush. However, in most cases, the original shape of the fastener, whether whole or broken, has been preserved in its concretion, which can serve as a mold to cast an epoxy replica for study and display. The process of recording, cleaning, and casting fastener concretions requires time and care to produce faithful replicas; to date, less than a hundred whole fasteners have been replicated.
A collection of 65 whole fasteners has been asssembled for analysis in this report.
Spanish shipwrights employed a number of standardized iron fasteners in their trade. A study of Basque shipbuilding contracts (Barkham 1981) indicates that iron fasteners were sold by weight, according to the number it took to make a pound, and that estimates of the total weight of fasteners required to build a ship of a certain tonnage were used in the purchasing negotiations of a shipyard. For example, mid-16th-century shipwrights understood by rule-of-thumb that a ship of 200 tons would require 50 quintals (hundredweights) of iron fasteners, which was the case when fasteners were purchased for the construction of a vessel named Santa María in 1559 (Barkham 1981:29).
The Basque contracts specified 12 different types of fasteners that were used
for shipbuilding. Four of these were round (clavo redondo) and referred to as bolts (pernos), while the other eight were square (clavo cuadrado), and referred to as spikes (pregos) (Barkham 1981:29). García de Palacio wrote in 1587 that fasteners used to build ships were classified as pernos de punta (pointed drift bolts), pernos de chaveta (forelock bolts), clavos de barrote (scantling nails), clavos de escora (bottom nails) and medio escora (medium bottom nails), and clavos de costado (nails for the ship’s sides) (Palacio 1944:fol. 110). A study of Spanish ship contruction contracts and an 18th-century illustrated naval dictionary (Lyon 1979) also has shown that spikes and nails were classified as clavos de peso, as opposed to bolts and wooden treenails (cabillas). Among the clavos are distinguished larger fasteners, named encolamiento, cinta, costado, and escora. Each of these came in varying sizes, from the largest (major) to the smallest (quarto). Aside from clavos de peso, there were smaller fasteners, such as barrotes, tillados, and estoperoles (tacks).
A preliminary study of over a thousand fasteners from the Molasses Reef Wreck (Keith 1987) was the first to attempt to catalog actual fastener remains from a 16th century shipwreck. Each example was categorizes by differences in head shape and diameter, shank length, shank cross-section shape and diameter, and point config-uration. Rather than attempting to assign contemporary 16th-century nomenclature to the different types of fasteners, the study divided examples into bolts (large, long, round-shanked fasteners with added-on heads), drift pins (long, square-shanked, peen-headed fasteners with beveled ends), nails (slender, headed, square or octangonal-shanked fasteners with fine drawn or flat points), and tacks (small, short-shanked, sharp-pointed nails with broad flat heads) (Keith 1987:110-114).
Recovery of numerous examples of iron fasteners from the 16th-century terrestrial sites of Santa Elena and Fort San Felipe has resulted in the formulation of a hypothetical model for the classification and typology of Spanish nails (South et al. 1988). Analysis of field specimens was compared with Lyon’s (1979) documentation of 18th-century ship fasteners to see if there was a pattern of colonial nails by type and size that could be useful to archaeologists. The nail model differentiates between nails used by a ship’s carpenter (carpintero de ribera) and those used by a joiner, or building carpenter (carpintero de blanco). Although both kind of nails were known by the same names and had similar dimensions, nails used in joining had flatter heads than those used in shipbuilding.
Preliminary measurement of 65 fastener casts of whole nails recovered in concretions from the Emanuel Point Ship suggests that they can be readily applied to South’s Spanish nail model. Those chosen for study were measured in overall length from the peak of the head to the end of the point; cross- sectional dimensions of the shank were taken at the base of the head and at the point. Each example has a square shank, and can generally be classified as a ship’s nail. Since the Emanuel Point examples are epoxy casts, their weights are not applicable to the model.
|Type||Count||Length (range in mm)|
|* Adapted from South, et al. (1988)|
|Escora mayor||3||204 -305|
|Media Escora||15||125 -168|
|Media barrote||5||57 -73|
|Quarto de barrote||4||less than 57|