Archaeologists recovered a chunk of coral from a Spanish shipwreck, and x-rays revealed a hollow space where a metal sword had disintegrated. This sword is a cast made by pumping resin into the hollow.


Spanish Sword (cast)
From the East Coast of Florida
Dates to 17th–18th century


Historical Archaeology


This is from a shipwreck that was found off the East Coast of Florida, likely dating to the 17th or 18th century. When archaeologists were excavating the ship they found a large chunk of coral which they brought up and had X-rayed. The X-ray showed that the coral had grown around a sword that had been lost, and over time the sword had deteriorated leaving a hollow hole where it once had been. Archaeologists pumped the coral full of resin, which hardened, and they broke the coral apart and it left this cast of the sword.

Gifford Waters
Collection Manager, Historical Archaeology*
Florida Museum of Natural History


On display Sept. 23, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018, Rare, Beautiful & Fascinating: 100 Years @FloridaMuseum celebrated the Museum’s rich history. Each Museum collection was asked to contribute its most interesting items and share the stories that make them special. Though the physical exhibit is closed, this companion website remains online, providing an opportunity to experience the Florida Museum’s most treasured specimens.

Exhibit Area: Objects Tell Stories

Theme: Spanish Colonial Archaeology

Cover of the All Things Beautiful bookWant to see more? Explore more than 300 breathtaking color photos of plants, animals, fossils and cultural heritage materials from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s collections in the award-winning book All Things Beautiful available from the University Press of Florida.

*This title was accurate at the time the exhibit was on display in 2017. Please visit the collection website to verify current staff and student information.

You Might Also Like