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Voyage of Doom

Program Overview


NOVA follows a team of archeologists that excavates the wreck of La Belle in Texas' Matagorda Bay. In 1685 French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, sailed the ship from his native France to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The program:

  • recounts La Salle's career as an explorer and describes his four-ship expedition to the New World.

  • describes the problem of excavating in silty water.

  • shows steel cofferdam construction and removal of most of the water inside.

  • reviews the use of a stadia—a telescopic instrument used to measure distances—to map the site and its artifacts.

  • shows artifacts found, including wooden containers, rope, pewter and ceramic items, and weapons carried in the ship's hold.

  • examines a human skeleton and illustrates forensic techniques used to determine age and gender and reconstruct facial features.

  • speculates how the ship sank and La Salle's final attempts to locate and claim the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Teacher's Guide
Voyage of Doom
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