Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Underwater archaeologists explore wreck from Spanish expedition to Florida Panhandle
When Matthew Kuehne dives to the sandy bottom of Pensacola Bay, he reaches back 450 years to Spaniard Don Tristan de Luna's hurricane-doomed effort to form the first colony in the present-day United States.

Archaeologists say the buried hull of a ship from de Luna's fleet of 11 ships holds crucial clues to the 1559 expedition that sailed from Mexico to Florida's Panhandle. That was six years before another Spanish explorer, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States.

The ship's discovery was announced in October after lead sheeting and pottery from the wreck site were matched to the de Luna expedition. Another ship in the fleet was found nearby in 1992.