2020 Session 12

Session 12: Iberian Seafaring and Ship Construction in Asia-Pacific


During the early 16th century several expeditions departed from Spain and Mexico to explore the Pacific Ocean and to find a new trade route with Asia. One of these expeditions, the Magellan-Elcano expedition, led to the first circumnavigation of the world in 1519-22 which was followed by the Loaysa expedition in 1525. Almost at the same time, oceangoing ships built in the shipyards of the Pacific coast of New Spain sailed directly to the Moluccas and the Philippines. However, it was not until 1565 when Urdaneta discovered a maritime route which allowed these vessels to return from Asia to North America across the Pacific Ocean. For the first time in history, Asia and Europe became connected via America on a regular maritime route known as the Manila-Acapulco galleon which contributed to the development of the first global economy. For centuries these vessels became the single mode of transportation for goods but also ideas and technological knowledge between different continents and cultures.

This session focuses on the evolution of Iberian seafaring and examines the development of ship construction and port facilities in the Pacific Ocean during the 16th and 17th centuries based on historical and archaeological sources. Iberian shipping relied on the interaction with local and regional trading networks established on the Asian and Pacific coasts creating a mutual dependence. The vessels built in Asia and America for the Pacific Ocean navigation were the result of a technological, material, and cultural mixture involving local and foreign communities. Therefore, archaeological and historical sources are crucial to explore the development of the Iberian seafaring and shipbuilding in the Pacific region and provide important information regarding Asia-Pacific societies, and their interaction with Iberian seafarers and settlers.


Session Organisers:

Dr. Jose L. Casaban
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Institute of Nautical Archaeology/Department of Anthropology
Texas A&M University (USA)

Dr. Roberto Junco
Underwater Archaeology Office, INAH (MEXICO)

Dr. Jun Kimura
Junior Associate Professor
Tokai University (JAPAN)