Brendan Burke – Anthropology ’03

Burke Brendan

Maritime Archaeologist, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

I graduated from Longwood University in 2003 with a BA, majoring in Anthropology as well as History. My experience studying under, and working with, Drs. Jordan, Bates, and Dalton convinced me that earning an undergraduate degree in anthropology is one of the most valuable collegiate experiences one can undertake. The rewards from my time at Longwood are something that I enjoy daily in my career as a maritime archaeologist.

Almost immediately after graduation I began working at Werowocomoco, the 17th century village of Powhatan we know best for the 1607 story of Pocahontas and John Smith. This work led to my graduate studies at The College of William & Mary, continuing with anthropology with a concentration in historic archaeology. During my time in Williamsburg I worked for Colonial Williamsburg, as part of the Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study, and a maritime survey of Achill Island off the west coast of Ireland. In 2006, with a MA in hand, I worked in Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada for contract archaeology firms, something I enjoyed immensely for the exposure to natural beauty, interesting archaeology, and a vigorous physical regimen.

In 2007 I moved to St. Augustine, Florida where I currently work as a maritime archaeologist for the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). LAMP is the research division of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum and our mission is to discover, preserve, and present the story of the nation’s oldest port to the public. As part of the LAMP team I am responsible for helping direct our annual field school, one of the only field schools in the world that offer students a chance to excavate a historic shipwreck, take part in its conservation, and learn something about life at sea. A central part of my job is as captain of our research vessel, work that has taken me all over the Atlantic Coast both inshore and offshore. As such I have had the pleasure to work with many students who are now fellow colleagues in the maritime field.

My research has led me to explore the ocean throughout Florida, across the US, and abroad. As an archaeologist I have discovered ‘wanted’ signs for Wild Bill Hickok in Wyoming, cannons from a Revolutionary War shipwreck off the Florida coast, surveyed George Washington’s Potomac in Maryland, and enjoyed the magic of sunrises at sea. I work with some very bright, engaging people, use cutting-edge technologies, publish research in scientific and public formats, and present our findings to many and varied audiences around the country. The beginning of this voyage was, for me, at Longwood University. That beginning was filled with great professors, good books, and inspiring discussion. To each professor I say ‘Thank you.’

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