Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program

The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) is dedicated to the investigation, interpretation and better understanding of the maritime history and archaeology of St. Augustine, the "First Coast" region of Florida, and beyond. Through historical research and scientific study of shipwrecks and other maritime archaeological sites, LAMP seeks to engage local and visiting communities while exploring the dynamic story of our nation's oldest port city. Humankind has always relied on water for the transportation of people, goods and ideas, and the sea has provided sustenance and livelihoods for countless generations of maritime communities. With its defensible harbor, extensive network of inland waterways and proximity to global shipping routes, St. Augustine (founded in 1565) was well-suited to become the first permanent European settlement in the present-day United States, and thus owes its very existence to the sea.

Shipping, boatbuilding, fishing and other marine activities have always shaped the lives of the diverse groups who have lived and traveled here. The prehistoric Native American economy was dependant on fishing and long-distance trade via dugout canoes. Starting in the 16th century, French, Spanish and English colonists brought new maritime traditions to Florida, and their governments used ships, coastal forts and sea power to expand trade and maintain their competitive transatlantic empires. Enslaved Africans were forced to the New World in European ships, but they brought with them memories of a rich maritime past on West African river deltas, and many used the waterways of their new homes as avenues of freedom and prosperity. Eighteenth-century Minorcan, Italian and Greek settlers brought Mediterranean seafaring traditions to St. Augustine and members of their descendant community served as lighthouse keepers, shipbuilders, blockade runners, fishermen, and tour boat operators throughout the ensuing centuries. Wooden shipbuilding flourished here as recently as the 1970s, in conjunction with the economically important shrimping and seafood industries.

LAMP archaeologists aim to identify, investigate and preserve the physical remains of these and other aspects of our maritime heritage. Founded in 1999 and based at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, LAMP is one of the few independent maritime archaeological institutes not under the direction of a university or government agency. LAMP archaeologists manage an active research program, surveying inland and offshore waters to discover new shipwrecks and other archaeological sites, and overseeing diving and excavation operations to investigate and monitor those already known. In addition, LAMP is dedicated to public archaeology and maintains a robust program of public outreach and education. This includes ongoing speaking engagements, museum exhibits and training workshops, as well as the participation of volunteers at every stage of our operations from diving to lab work. Furthermore, LAMP strives to introduce youth to marine science through college internships and our high school maritime archaeological program.

All text and images, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, Inc. We extend permission to scholars, students, and other interested members of the public to use images and to quote from text for non-commercial educational or research purposes, provided LAMP is acknowledged and credited. If there are any questions regarding the use of LAMP’s work, please inquire at

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81 Lighthouse Avenue
St. Augustine, Florida 32080