Serranilla Banks Project

Anita Cohen-Williams (IACAGC@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU)
Tue, 15 Mar 1994 11:02:27 -0700

Anita Cohen-Williams; Reference Services; Hayden Library
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
PHONE: (602) 965-4579 FAX: (602) 965-9169
*** Forwarding note from IACAGC --ASUACAD 03/15/94 11:01 ***

From: Anita Cohen-Williams
Subject: Serranilla Banks Project
I am sending this along to this list as I thought people might be

Research Summary
The Serranilla Banks Project

Located near the center of the Caribbean Sea, in Colombian waters, are the
Serranilla Banks, a large formation of reefs and sand bars that were a major
navigational obstacle during the age of discovery and colonial period. As a
result of various maritime disasters, the Serranillas serve as the final
resting place for a diverse array of sunken ships, including the outbound
galleons travelling from Porto Bello and Cartagena to Havana. The Serranilla
Banks Project seeks to identify and evaluate the submerged cultural resources
present in this region.

The project is made possible by a previously unknown legal arrangement. The
government of Colombia has established that the discoverers of submerged
cultural resources will be paid five percent of the value, in cash, of any

materials that are identified. To complete this process, an organization must
provide funding and institute a professional, conventinal research project,
approved by the government of Colombia. In the course of the study of a site
the archaeologists will acquire artifacts that remain the sole property of the
Colombian government. At the end of the research process these items will all
be turned over to the national musem designated by the Colombian governemnt.
In this case, the Pacific Geographic Society (a for-profit research
corporation) is seeking to enter into an agreement with the Colombian
government to undertake an operation that will result in their receiving a
payment in exchange for their financing the discovery and study of certain
cultural remians (in this case, submerged shipwreck sites of the Serranillas).
The Center for Spanish Colonial Archaeology (a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit
research organization that has major projects involving sites in Arizona and
California) is serving as the organizational unit and scholarly institution
that is recruiting an appropriate research team, and facilitating the required
archaeological studies. We see this process as essentially identical to one
where a terrestrial resource, such as a Spanish colonial settlement, would
suffer significant impacts from the creation of some other form of
development, such as the construction of an industrial plant or housing. The
project is therefore being treated as a problem of international cultural
resource management.

Funding for the program includes monies designated to support data retrieval,
analysis, conservation of artifacts, write-up, presentations at scholarly
meetings, and the systematic publication of results. All aspects of this
process are equally funded, irrespective of the specific results of any phase
of the research.

The proposed Serranilla Banks Project, like all similar scientific endeavors,
seeks to resolve a specific set of questions that relate to human behavior as
well as to other broad aspects of the scholarly endeavor of archaeology. the
Center has two additional specific sets of responsibilities, which relate to
both the sponsoring organization (in this example, the Pacific Geographic
Society) and the Colombian government. In both cases, we recognize that the
most significant information we can provide relates to the general evaluation
of the sites we are investigating as cultural resources. Because, to a
considerable extent, the Pacific Geographic Society has a strong interest in
the nature and character of what is encountered as a financial investment, we
have a special obligtion to provide them with insights into what additional
stages of data retrieval might produce. In regards to the Colombian
government, we feel a special obligation to provide them with relevant
information that will be useful in creating policies in regard to the
management of cultural resources.

For more information about the project, feel free to contact:

Dr. Jack S. Williams - Principal Investigator
Serranilla Banks Project
1743 S. Standage
Mesa, Arizona 85202

Anita Cohen-Williams; Reference Services; Hayden Library
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
PHONE: (602) 965-4579 FAX: (602) 965-9169