Austin Burkhard

Marine Archaeological Technician, University of West Florida

Ever since I was little, I always was fascinated with history and archaeology. I also grew up enjoying the ocean. In middle school, I found out that you could combine the two fields, and it was a perfect match.

You majored in archaeology at UWF. What are you doing now?

I am currently a graduate student in UWF’s historical archaeology program. This past summer, I directed the maritime archaeological portion of the annual UWF field school, in which students participate in underwater archaeological investigations in Pensacola Bay and surrounding waters. Our activities included excavations on vessels dating to the Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano expedition of 1559, hull recording of maritime landscapes and small vessels in local rivers, remote sensing survey using magnetometer and side-scan sonar as well as site assessments and dives on known historic wrecks and maritime sites located in the area.

What is your favorite part about the field of archaeology, and what is your ultimate career goal?

I love being able to study and observe sites which have not been seen since their abandonment—sometimes 50 to 1,000 years old. In a perfect world, I would like to become a state/federal archaeologist or possibly a cultural resource manager to be able to preserve and protect cultural resources for future generations.

Favorite memory from your time as a student?

I was on the first target dive with undergraduate field school students to uncover the third Luna Vessel. This was an extremely unique experience, uncovering ballast, time-period-correct artifacts and then later articulated structure. It was such a great experience being a part of this historic endeavor with the UWF archaeology department.