Director of Underwater Archaeology
National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico: Lost Fleet (Principal Investigator)
Archaeologist Pilar Luna Erreguerena was born in the port of Tampico, Mexico. Since 1980 she is the head of Underwater Archaeology at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). She has directed several projects in continental and marine waters within Mexico, and has participated in international investigations as well. She is member of several national and international councils, including ICUCH ICOMOS, the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) UNESCO Committee, and International Grant Advisor for the National Geographic Society. She is part of the Mexican delegation to UNESCO for all related to the 2001 Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. In January 1997, she received an Award of Merit from the SHA in the USA, for “pioneering in the recognition, exploration and preservation of the underwater archaeological heritage of Mexico.” She is author of multiple articles that have been published in specialized magazines and books, has presented numerous lectures in Mexico and abroad, and given interviews for mass media.
From Pilar Luna
While I was studying to become an archaeologist, one of my main concerns was, what happens to the cultural remains lying in Mexican waters? I knew pre-Hispanic groups used to throw offerings in springs and cenotes in order to honor their deities. I also asked myself what about all those ships that came from the Old World and sank in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean with cargoes as varied and rich as your imagination can be? For many years I was a swimming teacher, specializing in teaching children with Down Syndrome. Water had always been an important part of my world. Since life is always bringing us what we need to learn and to grow, my questioning about submerged cultural remains took me to a library where I found one book which revealed underwater archaeology to me. Then, of course, I wanted to know more. That led me to organize a course in Mexico City and to ask Dr. George Bass to be in charge of the main part. To my amazement, he accepted and he came together with Dr. Donald H. Keith. After that, he invited me to work with his team in Turkey and, little by little, with the support of many people, I was able to develop projects for Mexico. I can say that underwater archaeology and I have been together for a long time now, and that one of the main purposes of my life is to use this discipline as a bridge, not only to know our past better, but to become a better human being due to that understanding.
“Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.”
[Walker, there is no road. You make the road while you walk.] –Antonio Machado, Spanish poet