Conservation / Preservation

Artifacts Conservation and Preservation News

  • The Swedish most famous shipwreck

    Search for the Vasa


    By Lucas Reilly - Mentafloss


    Anders Franzén lived for shipwrecks. An engineer and expert on the naval warfare of the 16th and 17th centuries, he was especially obsessed with the old Swedish men-of-war that had once menaced the Baltic Sea.

    When he wasn’t busy at his day job with the Swedish Naval Administration, he’d spend hours combing through archives in search of maps and documents, hoping they might reveal the location of Sweden’s great sunken warships.

    And when he learned that one wreck might still be trapped, undiscovered, not far from his home in Stockholm, he was hungry to find it.

    For five years, Franzén spent his spare time searching for the shipwreck. He had little luck. Trawling the waterways around Stockholm—what locals call the ström—with a grappling hook, Franzén's “booty consisted mainly of rusty iron cookers, ladies’ bicycles, Christmas trees, and dead cats,” he’d later recall.

    But on August 25, 1956, Franzén's grappling iron hooked something 100 feet below. And whatever it was, it was big. Franzén gently lowered a core sampler—a tool used by oceanographers to get soil samples from the bottom of bodies of water—and retrieved a dark and soggy chunk of black oak.

    The following month, Franzén's friend Per Edvin Fälting dived into the ström and see what was down there.


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  • Mystery of the secret Confederate submarine Hunley is solved

    The Hunley laying in a preservation tank. After sinking the USS Housatonic during the Civil War, the Hunley, and its' crew disappeared


    By Iain Burns - Mail Online


    The first submarine to down an enemy ship was sunk itself after its crew failed to release an emergency weight to help it resurface.

    Crew aboard the Confederate vessel HL Hunley did not disconnect the 1,000lb keel blocks to help it rapidly resurface, resulting in the sub being trapped underwater and the men dying from lack of oxygen.

    Scientists who removed the corrosion, silt and shells from the boat found the levers all locked in their regular position, solving a mystery dating back to 1864. The blocks would typically keep the sub upright, but also could be released with three levers.

    That would allow it to surface rapidly, archaeologist Michael Scafuri, who has worked on the submarine for 18 years, said.

    'It's more evidence there wasn't much of a panic on board,' Scafuri said. The Hunley and its eight crewmembers disappeared in February 1864 in Charleston Harbor shortly after signaling it had placed explosives on the hull of the Union ship the USS Housatonic.

    The Hunley had delivered a blast from 135 pounds of black powder below the waterline at the stern of the Housatonic, sinking the Union ship in less than five minutes.

    Housatonic lost five seamen, but came to rest upright in 30 feet of water, which allowed the remaining crew to be rescued after climbing the rigging and deploying lifeboats. Ever since the Hunley was raised from the ocean floor in 2000, scientists have worked to determine why the sub never returned to the surface.


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  • Le naufrage du premier sous-marin militaire de l'histoire élucidé

    Une représentation du CSS HL Hunley par le peintre américain Conrad Wise Chapman, datant de 1864.


    De Francois Savatier - Pour La Science


    Un blast pulmonaire, c’est-à-dire la destruction des poumons par une onde de choc, a-t-il tué les huit premiers sous-mariniers de l’histoire ?

    C’est en tout cas ce que suggère l’essai qu’a mené l’équipe d’ingénieurs de Rachel Lance, du Centre pour la recherche militaire navale de Panama City, en Floride.

    Bien qu'Horace Lawson Hunley (1823-1863), son inventeur, soit mort noyé au cours d’essais de routine, le sous-marin confédéré CSS HL. Hunley, un bâtiment d’une douzaine de mètres de long pour 1,2 mètre de large, fut remis à flot et remis en service.

    Construit à partir de la chaudière d’un navire à vapeur, le petit sous-matin était dirigé depuis une tourelle de commande par un membre de l’équipage, pendant que sept autres le propulsaient en actionnant à la main un vilebrequin faisant tourner l’hélice.

    Des lests de quille pouvaient être libérés manuellement tandis que, comme dans les sous-marins modernes, des ballasts se remplissaient d’eau afin d'avancer à demi immergé vers la cible.

    Le haut de l’étrave était prolongé par un système de poutres de sept mètres de long au bout duquel était suspendu un baril de poudre à canon.


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  • Le trésor de la Jeanne-Elisabeth livre ses secrets

    Piastre d’argent, retrouvées dans la Jeanne-Elisabeth


    De Nicolas Montard - Ouest France


    C’est un trésor exceptionnel. Le Département des Monnaies, médailles et antiques de la Bibliothèque Nationale de France à Paris restaure 4 000 piastres d’argent, retrouvées dans la Jeanne-Elisabeth.

    Ce navire avait sombré en Méditerranée au XVIIIe siècle.

    « Nous ne sommes pas nombreux à pouvoir les tenir entre nos mains. » Jérôme Jambu a beau avoir déjà manipulé des centaines de ces piastres, le plaisir est toujours le même au moment de se saisir de l’une des pièces de huit, le petit nom des pièces de 8 réaux espagnols.

    « Un tel trésor, c’est exceptionnel, décrypte le conservateur, chargé des collections de monnaies étrangères au Département des Monnaies, médailles et antiques à la Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

    C’est le premier trésor maritime de l’époque moderne de cette importance que l’on ait retrouvé dans nos eaux territoriales. »

    Retour 260 ans en arrière, en novembre 1755. À l’époque, l’Atlantique est un véritable océan… d’argent. Les Espagnols transportent de précieuses cargaisons de l’Amérique jusqu’à leur port de Cadix, au sud de la péninsule ibérique.

    Là, des marchands dispatchent le métal précieux - déjà frappé en monnaie, le real -, mais aussi d’autres produits du Nouveau Monde vers les ports européens.

    La maison Verduc, marchands malouins installés en bord de Méditerranée, se serait chargée de la cargaison de la Jeanne-Elisabeth.

    Ce bateau suédois doit rallier Marseille avec blé, tabac, vin, cochenille… et 24 000 piastres d’argent. Une petite fortune : 24 000 piastres représentent près de 700 ans de salaire moyen d’un journalier de l’époque !

    Sauf que prise dans une tempête, la Jeanne-Elisabeth coule au large de Villeneuve-les-Maguelone (Hérault) le 14 novembre.

    Dix-neuf occupants sur vingt-et-un réussissent à rejoindre le rivage, deux périssent. Quant aux fameuses pièces, rangées dans des sacs dissimulés dans le blé, elles sont perdues à jamais…
     

    Toute l'histoire...




  • Half of artifacts from Confederate gunship returned to river

    In this Aug. 14, 2015 file photo provided by the US Navy, Parker Brooks, from left to right, Jim Jobling and James Duff, archeologists assigned to the CSS Georgia projec


    By Russ Bynum - Online Athens

     

    Leather boots, the hilts of swords — even a stray earring — were among the nearly 30,000 artifacts recovered this fall from the wreckage of the sunken ironclad Confederate gunship CSS Georgia.

    More than half of the haul retrieved during the $14 million government project, however, was of a much more mundane nature: nuts, bolts, washers, bent iron rails and other material that did not shed any new light on the lives of sailors serving aboard the vessel.

    Altogether, 16,697 artifacts weighing a total of 135 tons were returned to a watery grave at the bottom of the Savannah River, said Jim Jobling, project manager for the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University, which is tasked with cataloging, cleaning and preserving artifacts from the Civil War shipwreck.

    “Anything I considered to be unique, I would say, ‘I want this, I want this,’” Jobling said. “I picked through everything. No unique stuff went back in the river.”

    The CSS Georgia was scuttled by its own crew to prevent Gen. William T. Sherman from capturing the massive gunship when his Union troops took Savannah in December 1864. Remains from the Confederate ironclad were salvaged during the summer and fall as part of a $703 million deepening of the Savannah harbor for cargo ships.

    Based on sonar images of the murky riverbed, researchers knew they would fine big chunks of the ship’s armor, several cannons and large pieces of its engine.

    What they hadn’t expected were the loads of small artifacts their cranes scooped up: Small buttons, hilts of knives and swords, an intact glass bottle, leather boots and an earring among them.


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  • First sub to sink enemy warship revealed

    The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley

    By Bruce Smith
     

    The hull of the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship has been cleaned and revealed for the first time in 150 years.

    After a year of painstaking work, scientists using small chisels and hand tools have removed encrusted sand, sediment and rust from the outside of the hand-cranked Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

    Now, the outside appears much as it did when the Hunley and its eight-man crew rammed a spar with a powder charge into the USS Housatonic and sank the Union blockade ship off South Carolina in 1864.

    But scientists said Thursday that cleaning the hull didn't solve the mystery of why the Hunley itself sank with its crew before returning from its mission.

    Cleaning the hull showed some dents on both sides of the submarine.

    But scientists say it's not clear when the dents occurred. The Hunley sank twice before it went on its 1864 mission, though it also could have been dented at the time of the Housatonic attack or later when the sub sat for decades on the ocean floor off Charleston.

    "If there was a smoking gun, we would have seen it a long time ago," said Johanna Rivera-Diaz, a conservator with the Hunley project.
     

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  • Divers stage emergency excavation of historic Thames shipwreck

    The London


    By Dalya Alberge - The Guardian

    Archaeologists will embark on an emergency excavation of one of Britain's most important shipwrecks on Sunday after discovering it is deteriorating at alarming speed because of the warmer waters caused by climate change.

    The once-mighty 17th-century vessel, named the London, has lain in the muddy silt of the Thames estuary off the Essex coast near Southend-on-Sea for 350 years.

    Built in 1656, she was in a convoy that transported Charles II from the Netherlands to restore him to his throne after Oliver Cromwell's death in 1658. One of the most illustrious ships of her day, her remains are now a time capsule of the 17th century.

    English Heritage, the government advisory body, has commissioned Cotswold Archaeology to carry out a major excavation.

    Mark Dunkley, a marine archaeologist at English Heritage, told the Guardian: "It's rare for wooden shipwrecks of this age and older to survive to this extent."

    The hundreds of surviving wrecks are mostly later iron and steel ships.

    Asked why the wreck is deteriorating now after 350 years, he said: "Through human-induced climate change, warmer water is moving northwards. That's allowing the migration of warm-water invasive species."

    He spoke of the need for action to stop warm-water ship-boring organisms eating away at timber and organic artefacts and prevent loose objects being dispersed.


    Full story...



  • Mary Rose reveals armour piercing cannonball secret

    The Mary Rose


    By Richard Gray - The Telegraph


    She was first raised from her underwater resting place more than 30 years ago and has been prized as an archaeological gem, but it appears the she still has some secrets to surrender.

    Scientists studying Henry VIII’s naval flagship, which sank 468 years ago off the south coast of England in a battle with the French, are making new discoveries about the vessel that will change our understanding of history.

    New finds will be among 19,000 artefacts going on show in a new £23 million museum, built around the skeleton of the vessel, due to open later this year.

    Archaeologists have found the remains of a dog that lived on board, and longbows found on board have revealed a great deal about archery at the time.

    Among the items most exciting archaeologists are cannonballs believed to be early examples of armour-piercing rounds.

    Such shells were thought to have been developed during the late 1800s, before the technology was refined during the world wars.

    But the new findings by experts working with the Mary Rose Trust, which has been preserving the ship, now suggest the technology was being used several centuries earlier — although it could also have been a money-saving strategy, using cheaper iron inside the lead balls.

    Powerful imaging technology has revealed cubic-shaped lumps of iron encased in the soft, lead cannonballs, which would have allowed guns to punch through the sides of enemy vessels.


    Full article...



  • Discovery may rewrite Hunley's history, final moments

    Copper material on spar, left from torpedo


    By Eric Egan - ABC News

     Is it time to rewrite the history of the final moments of the Hunley ? Hunley research teams recently uncovered a new, very old piece of evidence.

    "This was so solidly attached to the submarine," said Paul Mardikian, the Hunley research team's senior conservator.

    It's a spar, in simplest terms a long rod that extended out from the Hunley. At its tip a torpedo was attached, that torpedo is believed to have sunk the USS Housatonic in 1864.

    "This evidence, right here and on the front, indicates the explosive was probably within 20 feet of the crew," said Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, the Hunley Commissioner.

    This contradicts what researchers have thought for years, that the spar rammed the torpedo into the Housatonic. It was believed the crew of the Hunley then backed away to a safe distance, as the federal ship exploded.

    What's new, a piece of copper found on the end of the spar. It tells archaeologists the torpedo was still attached, and only feet from the Hunley and crew members when it blew up.

    "It was close up at the Housatonic," McConnell said.

    "They (the Hunley crew) controlled the explosion, so it wasn't an accident. The question is now what happened ?"

    Experts like Mardikian say this latest discovery could reshape the Hunley's history.


    Full article...



  • Pozzino shipwreck: Ancient medicine ingredients probed

    The tablets were found in a small tin box, which kept them safe from corrosive sea water


    By Rebecca Morelle - BBC News<

    Six tablets were discovered in a tin box onboard an ancient Roman shipwreck, found off the coast of Italy.

    Samples of the fragile material revealed that the pharmaceuticals contained animal and plant fats, pine resin and zinc compounds.

    Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said the medicine might have been used to treat eye infections.

    "I am surprised by the fact we have found so many ingredients and they were very well preserved considering it was under water for so much time," said Maria Perla Colombini, professor of chemistry from the University of Pisa.

    The shipwreck that the tablets were found on dates to 140-130 BC, and was thought to have been a trading ship sailing from Greece across the Mediterranean.

    It was first discovered in 1974 off the coast of Tuscany, and explored during the 1980s and 1990s, but it is only now that the tablets have been fully investigated.

    "We used a very thin scalpel to detach a small flake of substance to be analysed," explained Professor Maria Perla.


    Full article...



  • Famed Roman shipwreck reveals more secrets

    The bronze Antikythera Mechanism used 37 gear wheels, a technology reinvented a millennium later, to create a lunar calendar and predict the motion of the planets


    By Dan Vergano -USA Today
     

    Marine archaeologists report they have uncovered new secrets of an ancient Roman shipwreck famed for yielding an amazingly sophisticated astronomical calculator.

    An international survey team says the ship is twice as long as originally thought and contains many more calcified objects amid the ship's lost cargo that hint at new discoveries.

    At the Archaeological Institute of America meeting Friday in Seattle, marine archaeologist Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution, will report on the first survey of Greece's famed Antikythera island shipwreck since 1976.

    The ancient Roman shipwreck was lost off the Greek coast around 67 BC,filled with statues and the famed astronomical clock.

    "The ship was huge for ancient times," Foley says. "Divers a century ago just couldn't conduct this kind of survey but we were surprised when we realized how big it was."

    Completed in October by a small team of divers, the survey traversed the island and the wreck site, perched on a steep undersea slope some 150 to 230 feet deep in the Mediterranean Sea.

    The October survey shows the ship was more than 160 feet long, twice as long as expected. Salvaged by the Greek navy and skin divers in 1901, its stern perched too deep for its original skin-diver discoverers to find.


    Full article...



  • French shipwreck to be rebuilt after freeze drying process

    La Belle


    From The Telegraph

    By placing the ship – La Belle – in a constant environment of up to 60 degrees below zero, more than 300 years of moisture will be safely removed from hundreds of European oak and pine timbers and planks.

    The freeze-dryer, located at the old Bryan Air Force base several miles northwest of College Station, is 40 feet long and 8 feet wide – the biggest such machine on the continent devoted to archaeology.

    Researchers will then rebuild the 54 ½-foot vessel, which will become the centrepiece of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

    From a historical perspective, it's "an icon of a small event that dramatically changed the course of Texas history," said Jim Bruseth, who led the Texas Historical Commission effort to recover the remains.

    The ship was built in 1684 and sank two years later in a storm on Matagorda Bay, about midway between Galveston and Corpus Christi. Captained by Rene-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle, he hoped to colonise Texas for France.

    "When La Belle sank, that doomed La Salle's colony and opened up the door for Spain to come in and occupy Texas," Mr Bruseth said. "People can see firsthand how history can turn on a dime."

    Researchers have determined that unlike earlier vessels, the frames on La Belle were marked specifically by the French craftsmen so the wood comprising the hull could follow the complex curve of the ship.

    After a more than decade-long hunt, Texas Historical Commission archaeologists found it in 1995 in 12 feet of murky water. Then began the tedious recovery that involved constructing a dam around the site.


    Full story...



  • Ten years on - restoration of Newport's medieval ship continues

    The Newport ship when it was discovered during building work for the Newport Riverfront Theatre

    From South Wales Argus

    It captured the imagination of Newport when it was found and sparked a campaign that attracted the support of thousands of people.

    Ten years on from the discovery of the city’s medieval ship DAVID DEANS investigates progress to conserve it.

    IT has been a decade since it was discovered on a bank of the Usk – but a team of specialists are still continuing the work to preserve and eventually rebuild the Newport Medieval Ship.

    The shop was found at the building site for the Newport Riverfront Theatre in 2002 and was excavated following a campaign that saw protesters holding a 24-hour vigil and thousands signing petitions.

    Ten years on, the ship resides in a Maesglas industrial estate unit, where a team of specialists have cleaned and recorded each of the boat’s timbers and are now working to conserve them.

    They are led by project curator Toby Jones – an American archaeologist who was plucked from his former home in San Diego in 2004 to get the ship rebuilt.


    Full story...



  • Ancient warship's ram under attack by corrosion

    One of five rams discovered near the Egadi islands off the West coast of Sicily. This is very similar to the ram the researchers studied 
    Photo Patrick Frank 


    By Jennifer Welsh -  Live Science

    An ancient warship's ram has been slowly disintegrating since it was retrieved from the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.

    A new analysis shows sulfuric acid buildup is to blame.

    Researchers are racing to find a way to slow the disintegration and perhaps, in the process, learn how to preserve other ancient wood structures after they've been plucked from the ocean and exposed to the air.

    Currently the ram — known as a rostrum, a beak-like part of the prow that ancient warships used to ram holes into enemy ships — is being stored underwater, and some of the acidity from its exposure to air (when it was brought to the surface initially) has washed away.

    But if it were ever to be displayed out in the air, the sulfuric acid production could turn out to be a real problem, study researcher Patrick Frank of Stanford University told LiveScience.

    In 2008, one ship's rostrum — made of bronze, over a core of wood — was discovered 150 feet (46 meters) offshore from Acqualadrone ("The Bay of the Pirates") in northeastern Sicily, under 22 feet (8 m) of water.

    The ship had sunk around 260 B.C., during the battle of Mylae, researchers said.


    Full story...



  • Old shipwrecks reveal their chemical secrets

    The Vasa, a Swedish warship built 1626-1628. The ship sank after sailing less than a nautical mile into its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628 
    Photo Javier Kohen


    From SCI News


    A team of scientists from the University of Gothenburg and Stockholm University has found large quantities of sulphur and iron compounds in marine archaeological wood from shipwrecks both in the Baltic Sea area and off the west coast of Sweden.

    A few years ago scientists reported large quantities of sulphur and iron compounds in the salvaged 17th century warship Vasa, resulting in the development of sulphuric acid and acidic salt precipitates on the surface of the hull and loose wooden objects.

    Similar sulphur compounds have now been discovered also in other shipwrecks both from the Baltic and off the west coast of Sweden, including fellow 17th century warships Kronan, Riksnyckeln and Stora Sofia, the 17th century merchant vessel in Gothenburg known as the Göta wreck, and the Viking ships excavated at Skuldelev in Denmark.

    “This is a result of natural biological and chemical processes that occur in low-oxygen water and sediments,” said Dr. Yvonne Fors of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

    Besides the Vasa, similar problems have previously been reported for Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose in the UK, which sank off Portsmouth in 1545, and the Dutch vessel Batavia in Australia, which was lost in 1629, the year after the Vasa.


    Full story...



  • An ancient ship’s SOS

    Glafkos Cariolou, the mayor of Kyrenia, whose father discovered the Kyrenia shipwreck


    By Simon Bahceli - Cyprus Mail

    One day about 2,300 years ago, not long after the death of Alexander the Great, a small merchant ship stacked with wine and almond-filled amphoras sailed past the port of Kyrenia on Cyprus’ northern coast.

    On board were four sailors about whom we know little, except that they had lowered their sail, possibly in anticipation of an approaching storm. We do not know whether the boat intended to arrive at Kyrenia, or if it was leaving.

    Maybe it was simply passing by; but what we do know is that it sank 30 metres down to the bottom of the Mediterranean sea where it remained for 23 centuries until found by a modern-day Cypriot out diving for sponges.

    Since its excavation from the seabed between 1968 and 69, the Kyrenia Shipwreck, as it came to be known, and its cargo of over 400 amphoras, has resided in Kyrenia Castle.

    Despite its being one of the world’s finest and best-preserved examples of classical naval architecture and the cargo a unique source of information on trade in the classical era, the wreck and its associated relics today face permanent damage from neglect and decay.

    “The problem we’re now encountering in this room [where the wreck is housed] is that this is not a museum,” says Dr Matthew Harpster, head of the Kyrenia Shipwreck Collection Restoration Programme, a body that seeks to “protect and revitalise” the collection.

    “Originally this was a crusader castle,” says Harpster, pointing to damp patches on the walls and cracks in the 400-year-old roof above.

    “The latest building work done was in the 16th and 17th centuries on top of Byzantine foundations,” he adds.

    It is evident from the single air conditioner labouring away in a corner of room that the wreck needs better environmental controls. Harpster explains that the waterproof skin on the outside of the roof is eroding, and that the back wall is also slowly subsiding.

    “As the wall moves, small fissure and cracks appear in the roof, and with its bad membrane, water seeps into the holes, soaks into the limestone, and all of that slowly falls on the ship.

    And that dust and grit is falling on the hull and damaging it.

    The archaeologist shows me the thick, grainy dust that has settled on the wooden upside of the hull, along with small thumbnail-sized pieces of the ship’s wooden body that have broken off. 



  • Mary Rose skeletons studied by Swansea sports scientists

    A reconstruction of the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545


    From BBC


    Skeletons recovered from the wreck of a King Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose are being studied to discover more about life in the 1500s.

    Swansea University sports scientists are hoping to find out more about the toll on the bodies of archers who had to pull heavy bows.

    It is documented that archers were aboard the ship when it sank in 1545.

    The wreck was raised from the Solent in 1982, containing thousands of medieval artefacts.

    The ship, which is now based in Portsmouth where a new museum is being built to house her, also had 92 fairly complete skeletons of the crew of the Mary Rose.

    Nick Owen, a sport and exercise bio mechanist from the College of Engineering at Swansea University, said: "This sample of human remains offers a unique opportunity to study activity related changes in human skeletons.

    "It is documented that there was a company of archers aboard when the ship sank, at a time when many archers came from Wales and the south west of England.

    "These archers had specialist techniques for making and using very powerful longbows. Some bows required a lifetime of training and immense strength as the archers had to pull weights up to 200lbs (about 90kg)."


    Full story...



  • Secret of shipwreck solved after five-year conservation


    From Hurriyet Daily News


    Scholars have revealed that artwork and tons of pillars and winch barrels that were discovered by underwater archaeologist and researcher Can Pulak in 1993 close to the Aegean district of Çeşme originally came from Apollon Temple in Claros.

    Five years of conservation work have revealed that the ship, known as the Kızılburun shipwreck, took its name from the ancient name of Marmara Island, “Prokenessos,” and sank during a storm in Kızılburun while carrying cargo to the Apollon Temple in the ancient city of Claros, according to Underwater Research Institute (INA) Director Tuba Ekmekçi.

    Half of the conservation of the works that were discovered have been completed, she said.Some 16 archaeologists from the United States, Europe and Turkey brought large marble winch barrels, capitals, anchors, marble gravestone, a Hermes statue and amphoras to the Underwater Archeology Museum in the southwestern district of Bodrum.

    The shipwreck was discovered during a dive by Pulak and was unearthed in 2005 as a result of work carried out by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, INA and Texas A&M University. Ekmekçi said they were waiting for permission from the ministry to exhibit the works.


     

  • Faces of Civil War sailors from sunken USS Monitor reconstructed

    From the Washington Post

     

    When the turret of the USS Monitor was raised from the ocean bottom, two skeletons and the tattered remnants of their uniforms were discovered in the rusted hulk of the Union Civil War ironclad, mute and nameless witnesses to the cost of war.

    A rubber comb was found by one of the remains, a ring was on a finger of the other.

    Now, thanks to forensic reconstruction, the two have faces.

    In a longshot bid that combines science and educated guesswork, researchers hope those reconstructed faces will help someone identify the unknown Union sailors who went down with the Monitor 150 years ago.

    The facial reconstructions were done by experts at Louisiana State University, using the skulls of the two full skeletal remains found in the turret, after other scientific detective work failed to identify them.

    DNA testing, based on samples from their teeth and leg bones, did not find a match with any living descendants of the ship’s crew or their families.

    After 10 years, the faces are really the last opportunity we have, unless somebody pops up out of nowhere and says, ‘Hey, I am a descendant,’ ” James Delgado, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage Program, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    The facial reconstructions are to be publicly released on Tuesday in Washington at the United States Navy Memorial where a plaque will be dedicated to the Monitor’s crew.

    If the faces fail to yield results, Delgado and others want to have the remains buried at Arlington National Cemetery and a monument dedicated in memory of the men who died on the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Navy.



  • Complete Civil War submarine unveiled for first time

    Senior conservator Paul Mardikian wets down the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley after it was freed of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, S.C., on Thursday


    From MSNBC


    Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world's first successful combat submarine, was unveiled in full and unobstructed for the first time on Thursday, capping a decade of careful preservation.

    "No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We're going to see it today," engineer John King said as a crane at a Charleston conservation laboratory slowly lifted a massive steel truss covering the top of the submarine.

    About 20 engineers and scientists applauded as they caught the first glimpse of the intact 42-foot-long (13-meter-long) narrow iron cylinder, which was raised from the ocean floor near Charleston more than a decade ago.

    The public will see the same view, but in a water tank to keep it from rusting.
    "It's like looking at the sub for the first time. It's like the end of a long night," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator since 1999 of the project to raise, excavate and conserve the Hunley.

    In the summer of 2000, an expedition led by adventurer Clive Cussler raised the Hunley and delivered it to the conservatory on Charleston's old Navy base, where it sat in a 90,000-gallon tank of fresh water to leach salt out of its iron hull.

    On weekdays, scientists drain the tank and work on the sub. On weekends, tourists who before this week could only see an obstructed view of the vessel in the water tank, now will be able to see it unimpeded.

    Considered the Confederacy's stealth weapon, the Hunley sank the Union warship Housatonic in the winter of 1864, and then disappeared with all eight Confederate sailors inside.

    The narrow, top-secret "torpedo fish," built in Mobile, Ala., by Horace Hunley from cast iron and wrought iron with a hand-cranked propeller, arrived in Charleston in 1863 while the city was under siege by Union troops and ships.

    In the ensuing few months, it sank twice after sea trial accidents, killing 13 crew members, including Horace Hunley, who was steering.

    "There are historical references that the bodies of one crew had to be cut into pieces to remove them from the submarine," Mardikian told Reuters.

    "There was forensic evidence when they found the bones (between 1993 and 2004 in a Confederate graveyard beneath a football stadium in Charleston) that that was true."

    The Confederate Navy hauled the sub up twice, recovered the bodies of the crew, and planned a winter attack.


    Full story...



  • Civil War shipwreck spawns a modern mystery

    By Joe Dashiell - WDBJ7


    In a work area outside The Mariner's Museum, members of the conservation team are focused on the smallest details, slowly scraping away years of sediment and chemical concretion that obscure many of the artifacts that were recovered from the wreck of the USS Monitor.

    Eric Nordgren is the Senior Conservator.

    "That's a lot of work, a lot of time, but very rewarding when you expose that original surface that hasn't been seen since the crew walked on it in 1862."

    The crew last walked on the surface in December, 1862.  The civil war ironclad went down in a storm on New Year's Eve as it was being towed off the coast of North Carolina. When divers from the Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration brought the ships's turret to the surface in 2001, they also recovered two sets of human remains.

    Joe Hoyt is a Maritime Archeaologist with the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. "We're actively trying to do genealogical work and forensic archaeology to identify those individuals, and identify descendants of those individuals."

    Many of the sailors were immigrants.  Their historical records are often hard to come by, but the staff of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is optimistic the mystery will soon be solved.


     

  • Lab preserves Blackbeard’s treasures

    Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge cannon


    By Jeannine Manning Hutson


    A few hours after underwater archaeologists plucked one of four large anchors from the wreck of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge in the waters near Beaufort Inlet in May, a tourist looking at the encrusted artifact on a flatbed truck asked when it would be on display at a museum.

    “Years” was the collective answer from QAR project team members standing nearby.

    The answer would be the same for the approximately one-ton cannon raised Wednesday from the site. The cannon arrived Thursday at the QAR Conservation Lab at East Carolina University to begin the process of being saved for future generations.

    Today the large anchor sits in a 6,500-gallon tank at the QAR Conservation Lab beside hundreds of other artifacts from the shipwreck site. Similar types of artifacts are submerged in tanks filled with sodium carbonate solutions, waiting to be conserved and prepared for display in the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

    The Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s flagship, wrecked off the North Carolina coast in 1718. Initial fieldwork at the site under the direction of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ Underwater Archaeology Branch began in 1997, and it has progressed slowly and methodically.

    The clock is ticking to pull artifacts from the wreckage. “We want to start bringing these pieces up off the main mound because we have a directive for three years to do full recovery as hard as we can, to get it all up. It’s about 50 percent of the site out there,” Mark Wilde-Ramsing, state underwater archaeologist, said in May as he stood by the newly hoisted anchor.

    Wilde-Ramsing earned his doctorate in coastal resource management at ECU in 2009. He has directed the Queen Anne’s Revenge project since it began in 1997.


    Full story...



  • The challenge of saving DeBraak's hull

    HMS DeBraak


    By Molly Murray - Delmarvanow


    The musket balls, once at the ready for an 18th century sea battle, are vacuum packed in the same plastic bags home cooks use to store leftovers.

    The socks, a little stained, but otherwise perfect -- are spread out in acid-free boxes.

    And the bilge pump rests in a specially built roller cart.

    But the one piece of the 18th century HMS DeBraak -- raised from the sea floor off Lewes in the summer of 1986 -- that hasn't been carefully conserved and preserved is the largest of some 20,000 artifacts: the giant section of the 85-foot long vessel's hull.

    For more than two decades, the hull section, about 30 percent of the original ship, has been stored in a warehouse near Lewes.

    A steady stream of fresh water keeps the wood -- which dates to pre-1798 -- wet. And over time, it has washed away salt deposits, tiny bits of debris, mud and sand.

    Now, state archaeologists are beginning to tackle their biggest conservation challenge yet with the DeBraak collection, considered world class by researchers and historians.

    "There is no other vessel like this," said Charles H. Fithian, the state curator of archaeology, who has worked on the DeBraak since thousands of artifacts and the hull were raised from the sea floor in summers of 1984, 1985 and 1986.

    Now, he said, they must develop a conservation plan for the hull remains.

    "We could make a serious mistake and ruin it," he said


    Full story...



  • 1812 gunboat makes overland voyage to Fort Wellington

    The gunboat is snug in her cocoon and ready to travel


    By Lorraine Payette - Emcst Lawrence


    On Aug. 4, after weeks of careful preparation and packing, the St. Lawrence Islands National Park in Mallorytown Landing bid a fond farewell to the gunboat which had been housed at the facility for more than 40 years.

    In 1967, the remains of an 1812 British gunboat were raised by the Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology team. With extreme care and respect, the boat was placed in a cool, dark boathouse at the St. Lawrence Islands National Park, Mallorytown Landing, Ontario, where it has remained to be observed and admired by those who come to visit the Park throughout its season.

    But time takes its toll. The old boathouse was suffering, the piers below it rotting away and endangering the overall structure.

    Parks Canada took a long hard look, and decided that instead of trying to do a patchwork repair to the old building, it would be better to create a new exhibit and facility for the gunboat at Fort Wellington in Prescott.

    "Fort Wellington National Historic Site, located in the historic town of Prescott, is a British fort built during the War of 1812 to protect the St. Lawrence River, the main shipping and communication line between Montreal and Upper Canada during the 19th century," said Bruce MacMillan, Partnering Engagement and Communications Officer for the Eastern Ontario Field Unit of Parks Canada. "In addition to being home to Fort

    Wellington, Prescott Ontario was an important British gunboat station during the conflict. It was also the home port for three British gunboats used on the river to aid in battle, as well as to protect and escort convoys of bateaux loaded with valuable military equipment and supplies.

    A new visitor centre at Fort Wellington is being constructed to accommodate this significant artifact, increase exhibit space and better orient visitors to foster greater public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the fort and its history.

    "The gunboat was raised from the river in 1967, during the centennial for Canada. It only seems appropriate that we would conduct this project now, during the 100th anniversary of parks Canada, and that the unveiling ceremonies are to take place in May, 2012, in time for the bicentennial of the War of 1812."


    Full story...



  • State works to preserve artifacts from sunken blockade runners

    Underwater Archaeology Branch Conservator Nathan Henry holds several examples of artifacts recovered from the blockade runner Modern Greece that are still being maintained in water tanks at he Underwater Archaeology Branch of the N.C. Division of Archives and History at Fort Fisher 
    Photo Mike Spencer


    By Ben Steelman - Star News Online


    Their career began 150 years ago and lasted just a few seasons, but for a while they made Wilmington, in the words of Civil War writer Clint Johnson, “the most important city in the Confederacy.”

    They were the blockade runners, merchant ships that sped past Union warships in the dark to bring much-wanted supplies into Southern ports.

    After the U.S. Navy and ground forces effectively sealed off Charleston, S.C., in 1863, that meant Wilmington.

    Arms, ammunition, medicine and much-needed supplies slipped into the Port City, usually under the protective guns of Fort Fisher. These were then loaded onto the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad for shipment north to Richmond.

    Now, state archaeologists are beginning to take a new look at the blockade runners and their cargoes. They hope to launch a campaign to conserve artifacts recovered from the waters off Cape Fear.

    The wrecks of 21 blockade runners lie in shallow waters off the coast in what is one of the few maritime National Register historic districts.

    “There’s probably twice as many still out there,” said Mark Wilde-Ramsing, an assistant state archeologist who heads North Carolina’s Underwater Archaeology Branch at Fort Fisher.

    On April 27, 1861 – nearly a month before North Carolina officially seceded from the Union – President Lincoln extended the naval blockade of the Confederacy to the Tar Heel coast.

    Declaring a blockade and enforcing it, however, are two different things. In early 1861, the U.S. Navy had just 42 warships, many still deployed in foreign ports, hardly enough to cover the 4,000-mile-long Confederate coast.

    The first blockader, the USS Roanoke, didn’t take up station off Cape Fear until July 12, 1861.


    Full story...



  • Conservator tells how artifacts from Blackbeard shipwreck are handled

    Sarah Watkins-Kenney, chief conservator and director of the Queen Anne's Revenge Conservation Lab, speaks to a group about the conservation steps needed to take artifacts from the underwater excavation site near Beaufort, and study them and eventually place them in a museum 
    Photo Mike Spencer


    By Chanda Marlowe - StarNews


    The recent recovery of the 300-year-old anchor from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, is piquing public interest in the QAR (Queen Anne’s Revenge) conservation project.

    Thousands of fascinating artifacts are already on display at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, and the public anxiously awaits the arrival of the anchor as well. But the journey from shipwreck to museum does not happen overnight.

    Sarah Watkins-Kenney told those who attended a Third Tuesday program of the N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport what happens to recovered artifacts and why it takes so long before they arrive at a museum.

    She is the chief conservator and director of Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab. The lab is operated by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

    The pirate’s ship sank in 1718 near Beaufort. Archeologists working to recover artifacts from the underwater site.

    Artifacts must go through a 12-step process that stretches two to three years. Among the steps are: recovery, cataloging, storage, analysis, cleaning, desalination, consolidation, drying, reconstruction and documentation.

    While steps like recovery from the wreckage and transfer to the museum gain a lot of attention, the behind-the-scenes steps are equally important.

    One of the hardest parts is identifying the concretions – a mixture of minerals and shells encasing iron artifacts. Determining what the artifacts are can be like solving a mystery. Archaeologists use a radiography (X-ray) machine to help identify these 18th century objects.


    Full story...



  • H.L. Hunley is rotated upright; 'stealth-like' craft now visible

    H.L. Hunley


    By Martha M. Boltz - Washington Times Communities

     

    Word has been received that at long last, the H.L. Hunley has been rotated and put into her original upright position in the climate controlled tank at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, SC.

    The Confederate submersible/submarine was resting on her starboard side at an approximate 45-degree angle when finally raised from the ocean floor in August 2009. 

    Due to the sediment inside which had not been disturbed in over 100 years, and the presence of the remains of the eight men who had sailed her, it was felt that a full examination of the contents should be made before any attempt was made to right the seven and one-half ton ship, which was 39’ long.

    It took two days to accomplish the shift in position of the craft, which had been held in place by large slings.  Moving in micro steps of two millimeters a day, the repositioning was finally accomplished, providing the scientists and conservators with the first glimpse of that side of the Hunley’s hull. 

    Apparently no specific damage was evident on the long-hidden side, which means that the scientists will still continue their hunt to ascertain what caused the ship to sink.

    Talking with Kellen Correia, Executive Director of the Friends of the Hunley organization today, she said that “seeing the Hunley right side up  has given us a whole new view of it – it looks stealth-like now.”

    They will soon remove the keel block supports, she said, as well as the slings.

    “It’s hard to realize that over a half million people have come to see the Hunley in the last ten years,” she related, “and we hope that the new positioning will bring even more to our facility.”

    Ms. Correia continued that “within the next two to four weeks, the trusses will be completely removed” from the little craft, although what the ultimate preservation process will be is not known at this time.

    History records the fatal steps that led up to the ultimate Hunley’s launching, which made her the first of her kind to sink an enemy ship during warfare. 

    On February 17, 1864, sliding out of Charleston Harbor late at night, she quietly approached the U.S.S. Housatonic, a Union blockade ship preventing ships from entering the Harbor, and fired a 135 lb. torpedo attached to a 150` detonation rope into the Housatonic’s side.

    The Union ship sank in less than five minutes.

    After coming to the surface to flash a signal to the crew waiting on shore, the Hunley sank beneath the waves, where she remained for over a century.


    Full story...



  • Cannons retrieved from mystery ship off St. Augustine

    Archaeologists from the the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program join SDt. Johns County workers to lower an estimated 1,800-pound cannon into its fresh water bath Tuesday behind the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum


    By Dan Scanlan - The Florida Times


    After more than two centuries 30 feet under the Atlantic Ocean, two cannons raised Tuesday from a shipwreck have a new home: conservation vats behind the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum.

    As visitors watched, they were lowered into fresh water to begin cleaning off concretion from weapons carried by a ship archaeologists believe could date from 1776 to 1810.

    When the job is done, markings on weapons that weigh 1,200 to 1,800 pounds each could tell archaeologists what ship they were on when it sank. Until then, having weapons of war becoming tools of learning was "public archaeology at its best" in the museum's backyard, said spokesman Beau Philips.

    "It was like Christmas come early to see how interested people were in history, the artifacts and the stories they will be able to tell," Philips said. "There was genuine excitement as the crowd gathered. They were hushed, then asked a lot of questions."

    Part of a wreck discovered two years ago about a mile off St. Augustine's shorelines by the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, the cannons were lifted up just before noon Tuesday.


    Full story...



  • Hunley on a slow roll

    CSS Hunley


    By Brian Hicks - Post and Courier


    The H.L. Hunley was never a fast boat, but it probably never moved this slowly.

    On Wednesday, engineers and scientists at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center began rotating the Confederate submarine into an upright position -- 3 millimeters at a time.

    The pace was plodding, the progress barely visible, but then speed wasn't the objective. The idea was to right the sub without putting any stress on its iron hull.

    This was accomplished by slowly adjusting the 15 straps that cradle the Hunley, and keeping a laser sight running from stern to bow that would detect any twisting of the hull.

    "We're just trying to be cautious," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator on the Hunley project. "The movement was very smooth. The laser was perfectly aligned."

    Barring any complications, the rotation should be finished sometime today.

    This is a major step in the Hunley project, one last engineering puzzle before conservators put the sub through the restoration process.

    The move attracted the attention of myriad people who have had a hand in the project, from State Archaeologist Jonathan Leader to former Friends of the Hunley Chairman Warren Lasch.

    "This is the culmination of a lot of work by a whole lot of people," Lasch said.

    The Hunley has rested on its starboard side since it was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean in 2000.

    Archaeologists wanted the sub lifted in the position it was found to avoid moving artifacts inside the sub.

    The Hunley has remained in that position ever since.

    But now the entire hull needs to be exposed so that conservators can remove the crusted sand and shell that covers the hull in preparation for the Hunley's restoration.

    For more than a year, engineers and scientists worked on the plan. Basically, the straps used to lift the sub were replaced, one at a time, with new slings with load cells and handy controls that allow for minute movement.

    The idea is to lower the port side, allowing the port side to drop slowly until the sub is standing upright.


    Full story...

     


     

  • Hunley submarine will be rotated next week

    Sen. Glenn McConnell, chairman of the Hunley Commission, talks about the raising and rotating of the H.L. Hunley submarine at the Hunley Conservation Lab on Monday, June 13


    By Brian Hicks - The Post and Courier


    It sounds pretty simple: raise the H.L. Hunley a few feet off the ground, tilt it upright and set it down.

    But it’s a little more complicated than that.

    This week scientists at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center will begin work on a Hunley rotation plan that is more than a year in the making – a complex engineering procedure designed to move the fragile iron sub without damaging it.

    Start to finish, it should take a little more than a week.

    When the work is done, archaeologists will be able to examine areas of the sub’s hull hidden for more than a decade by its original lifting straps.

    And that could reveal clues as to why the Hunley sank in 1864 just after it became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle.

    “We will see what no one has seen since the crew did on the night it disappeared,” said Sen. Glenn McConnell, chairman of the state Hunley Commission. “You’ll be able to see the Hunley unobstructed.

    It’ll be a sight to behold.”

    When the Hunley was raised from the Atlantic in August 2000, it was brought up at a 45-degree angle – which is how it was found lying 5 feet beneath the ocean floor.

    Scientists wanted to keep it at that attitude to keep from shifting the placement of artifacts inside the sub, and because no one knew how weak the iron hull was after more than a century in saltwater.

    Since then, the sub has been excavated and had several hull plates, keel blocks and other pieces removed. It has changed the structural integrity of the sub, and made this job more complex.

    “There is no recipe for rotating Civil War submarines,” said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator on the project. “This is just as complicated, or maybe even more complicated than raising it from the ocean floor.”

    Of course, there is a recipe now – one that Hunley scientists and Clemson University professors have worked on for years. Scientists developed a 3-D model of the sub, studied weight distribution and stress factors.

    They looked at several ways to do it, and computer modeling showed that not all of them worked.


    Full story...



  • Phonograph records recovered from Gold Rush wreck

    By Randy Boswell - Vancouver Sun


    Conservation specialists have rediscovered the soundtrack of a deadly shipwreck from the Klondike Gold Rush, identifying three records found with a vintage phonograph alongside the sunken sternwheeler A.J. Goddard, which went down in a storm more than a century ago on Yukon's fabled Lake Laberge.

    The exquisitely-preserved wreck of the Goddard - discovered in 2009 by a Yukon government-led team of Canadian and American archeologists - has been hailed as a "time capsule" from the era in which tens of thousands of fortune- seekers from across North America rushed to the remote, northwest corner of Canada following the discovery of gold nuggets in streams near present-day Dawson City.

    The phonograph used aboard the Goddard - a steam-powered vessel that transported miners to the goldfields up the Yukon River - was considered the most exciting of artifacts found at the wreck site.

    Though damaged from spending more than a century at the bottom of Lake Laberge - a widening of the river and the setting for Klondike poet Robert Service's ghoulish 1907 masterwork The Cremation of Sam McGee - the records were carefully retrieved from the chilly depths and sent to Ottawa for analysis and preservation by experts with the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), a federal agency that studies and protects the country's most coveted historical relics.

    "The recovered artifacts reveal intimate details of life on a small, functional Yukon sternwheeler," Yukon's tourism and culture minister, Elaine Taylor, said recently in announcing the institute's findings.

    "To have the opportunity to learn about the music those on the Goddard would have enjoyed gives us a window into Yukon's past and one small piece of the culture of the day."



  • New identity for Arctic explorer emerges 140 Years Later

    Researchers reconstructed the explorer's face (right) and compared it to pictures of the expedition's officers to find a likely match. 
    National Maritime Museum


    By Wynne Parry - LiveScience


    In 1845, two ill-fated British ships headed for the Canadian Arctic in the hope of discovering the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. More than two decades later, the nearly complete skeleton of one of the explorers was recovered from a shallow, stone-covered grave on King William Island in the Canadian Arctic.

    The remains were then identified as those of Henry Le Vesconte, a lieutenant aboard one of the ships, the HMS Erebus. However, a modern analysis points to another identity for the man.

    Whoever he was, this man appears to have died early and so escaped the worst.

    "That the body was accorded formal burial suggests that the death occurred before the final throes of the expedition when the dead seem to have been left unburied and, in some cases, cannibalized," write lead researcher Simon Mays of English Heritage, an organization that advises the government on historic issues, and colleagues in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

    The grave, then believed to be Le Vesconte's, was first discovered by native Inuits who later led an American adventurer to it. The body was returned to England, analyzed and buried beneath the Franklin Memorial in Greenwich. (Sir John Franklin led the expedition.)

    In 2009, renovations to the monument required that the body be exhumed, creating the opportunity to apply modern forensic techniques.

    This wasn't the first time. In the 1980s, a team led by Canadian researcher Owen Beattie studied the remains of three men who also died early during that expedition and were buried in the permafrost on Beechey Island.

    Lead levels in these men's tissues were high, as they were among the scattered remains found there, leading to speculation that lead poisoning, possibly from poorly canned foods, had contributed to their deaths.


    Read more...



  • Scientists finally ready to right the Hunley

    By Brian Hicks - The State


    After sitting in the same spot for 10 years, the H.L. Hunley is finally ready to move.

    Well, a few feet anyway.

    This summer, the team at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center will take the 19th century submarine out of the lift cradle that’s held it since 2000 and set it upright for the first time since 1864.

    It sounds pretty simple, but it’s a significant step in the project — and an ordeal that has taken nearly as long as it took to recover the sub from the ocean floor.

    “We’re almost done with the final plan,” said Mike Drews, who manages the lab for Clemson University. “We sent it out for review to the (Hunley) Commission and the Navy. They looked at the preliminary plans and found nothing I would call red flags.”

    The rotation, as the scientists call it, will set into motion the final phase of the sub’s rehabilitation — and may answer lingering questions about its disappearance in the dark days of the Civil War. People have waited a long time for those answers, but the crew at the Lasch lab has moved cautiously because, well, they don’t want to drop it.

    Since the sub was delivered to Warren Lasch in 2000, archaeologists and conservators have removed several pieces of the sub and emptied it of sediment, crew remains and other artifacts. That has potentially changed the strength of the sub and created new stress points. But computer models show that the plan to slowly inch the sub upright and to the floor of the tank it sits in will work flawlessly.

    The planning for this has been more than simple engineering. Maria Jacobsen, senior archaeologist on the project, has been mapping the intricate pattern of sand, shells and sea life stuck to the sub’s hull — a chore that had to be finished before the sub could be moved.

    Because the Hunley was taken from the spot where it sank in 1864, that concretion holds the only record of the sub’s 130-plus years on the ocean floor.

    The concretion also serves as an extra level of strength and protection for the sub, so it’s to the scientists’ advantage to leave it on through the move. But once that’s finished, all the concretion — and evidence recorded in it — will be removed.



  • Students help preserve history of Modern Greece warship

    Laurel Seaborn, from the East Carolina University Program for Maritime Studies 
    Photo Mike Spencer


    By Amy Hotz - Star News Online


    For a ship that’s been sunk 150 years, the Modern Greece has impeccable timing.

    On the morning of June 27, 1862, the 210-foot blockade runner slipped through a ring of Federal warships to enter the Cape Fear River.

    Its hold was filled with goods from England for the industry-void Confederacy.

    Before the Modern Greece could pass under the protection of Fort Fisher, which guarded the route to Wilmington, the USS Cambridge caught a glimpse of it and opened fire. Soon, the USS Stars And Stripes joined in.

    The Modern Greece’s captain made a difficult decision. To prevent the goods from falling in to the hands of the North, he drove the ship aground. And the guns of Fort Fisher were able to finish it off, making sure nothing was left behind for the enemies.

    Or so everyone thought for almost exactly 100 years.

    Right around the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, and while the nation was in the midst of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, divers discovered that the Modern Greece had not, in fact, been completely destroyed.

    It was still filled with its original cargo.

    Thousands of artifacts were recovered by Navy divers and the N.C. Department of Archives and History. Much of their preservation techniques were the first of their kind and amounted to the beginning of underwater archaeology, not just in North Carolina, but in the United States, said deputy state archaeologist Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

    Over the next four years, Civil War sites and museums across the nation will honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with elaborate commemorations. And here, the state will also honor the 150th anniversary of the sinking of the Modern Greece and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of underwater archaeology.

     

    Read more...



  • Scott and Shackleton artefacts in Antarctica

    Artefacts from shackleton's hut, nimrod expedition, 1907


    From Past Horizons


    The Antarctic Heritage Trust is a New Zealand based charity recognised internationally as the organisation which cares for the expedition bases associated with the famed polar explorers Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

    These bases, built between 1901 and 1911, are located in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. The three wooden bases contain an estimated 15,000+ artefacts consisting of objects made from a variety of materials including timber, leather, glass and metal.

    These sites are protected under the Antarctic Treaty System and have been listed on the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World.

    The Trust has a major international conservation project under-way to conserve the bases and the artefact collections. It is world-leading in terms of polar conservation.

    Since 2006 conservators have been based year round at New Zealand’s science facility, Scott Base, conserving the artefact collections. Conservation work is carried out both on-site at the bases (during summer months) and at Scott Base (during summer and winter).


    Read more...



  • Underwater archaeology team helps preserve N.C. maritime history

    Chris Southerly, Julep Gillman-Bryan, Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Madeline Spencer and Nathan Henry make up the team at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the N.C. Division of Archives and History based at Fort Fisher
    Photo Paul Stephen 


    By Amy Hotz - Star News Online


    On Good Friday of 1962, just as the nation’s collective thoughts reflected on the Civil War after 100 years of hindsight, a storm approached the Cape Fear.

    Sand shifted, as it always does along the Graveyard of the Atlantic. But this time grains scattered to reveal the wreck of a blockade runner, the Modern Greece.

    The steam-powered ship had run aground near Fort Fisher on June 27, 1862, while trying to deliver supplies to the Confederacy. This was the first time any human being had seen it in decades. And it was nearly full of cargo.

    Navy divers, representatives from the state of North Carolina and several U.S. government departments began a major salvage operation.

    To house the objects, the Fort Fisher Preservation Laboratory, a makeshift facility, was somewhat hastily set up. By today’s standards, it was primitive, but the whole field of underwater archaeology was primitive at that time. Still, more than 20,000 individual artifacts were recovered from the wreck, including bowie knives, rifles, andirons and straight pins.

    Much of the Modern Greece’s cargo today is scattered among museums across the Southeastern United States, including the museum at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site.

    But some artifacts will never be seen again. They were simply rinsed off and, unintentionally, left for corrosion to set in.


    Read more...



  • Journey of North Carolina's oldest shipwreck

    From Our Amazing Planet


    A nearly 400-year-old shipwreck was discovered in Corolla, N.C., in 2008 after storms and tides uncovered its timbers. Archeologists from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources believe the structure to be the remains of the oldest shipwreck discovered off the North Carolina coast.

    In the summer of 2010, archeologists decided that the wreckage couldn't remain on the beach any longer, where wind, sand and water could harm the timber remains.

    North Carolina state officials surveyed and measured the wreckage in pieces so they could figure out the best way to move it.

    North Carolina's Outer Banks are no stranger to shipwrecks, with thousands scattered along the coast. But, it is rare to find the remains of older, wooden vessels still intact.

    Since the shipwreck was exposed in 2008, many Corolla residents have used metal detectors to find artifacts at the site. The artifacts pictured above were recovered by resident Ray Midgett.

    Ray Midgett has collected many of the artifacts associated with the wreck. Above, a rare coin that he discovered.

    "It is a silver, 1642 Charles I, British Crown ... issued during the English Civil War period," Midgett said. "The back of the coin bears the date and wording, "RELIG : PROT : LEG : ANG : LIBER : PAR," which means, 'To uphold the Protestant Religion, the Laws of England and the Liberty of Parliament.'"


    Read and see more...



  • Volunteers try to raise funds for war sub's repairs

    Administrator for the American Undersea Warfare Center, Bradford Gulick, left, and Bob Gawe, a retired volunteer from Western Connecticut, survey the sonar cavity of the bow of the USS Cavalla


    By Harvey Rice - Houson Chronicle


    Hurricane Ike did to the USS Cavalla what Japanese destroyers tried and failed to do. The storm punched a gaping hole in the bow of the World War II submarine that survived depth charge attacks during the battle of the Philippine Sea.

    Ike floated the Cavalla, although its hull had been buried 15 feet in the ground when it was placed in Seawolf Park on Pelican Island in 1971. The storm surge washed earth beneath the floating sub and left it 5 feet higher when it subsided, said John McMichael, Seawolf Park manager.

    The storm also floated the destroyer escort USS Stewart, another park attraction that sits next to the Cavalla, and deposited a boat underneath it that had to be removed.

    More than two years after the storm, volunteers such as former submariner Bob Gawe, 66, and his wife Sharon, 58, from Bridgeport, Conn., and hired hands are at work repairing a 30-foot hole in the Cavalla's bow where rusted steel plates gave way under Ike's blows.

    McMichael, who served on 11 submarines over his 32 years in the silent service, had to raise $86,000 before repairs could begin. He now needs to raise $520,000 for restraining systems that will keep the Cavalla and the Stewart stable if another Ike-size storm strikes.

    The engineering plan calls for driving 3-foot diameter pipes 90 feet in the ground on each side of the Cavalla and welding inch-thick steel straps to them that would stretch across the sub under its wooden decking, McMichael said.

    The Stewart would have a metal brace attached to its hull that would slide up and down a 12-foot high steel retainer with a base buried 90-feet deep.

    The quest for funding is never-ending for a boat that has earned its place in history yet has never gained the attention McMichael thinks it deserves. He often encounters Galveston residents who have never heard of the storied submarine.


    Full story...



  • Finns to revive beer from 19th century shipwreck

    The beer in question is one of the world's oldest preserved beers


    From The Telegraph


    Finnish scientists are analysing a golden, cloudy beverage found in a 19th century shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, hoping new beers can be modelled on an ancient brew.

    The VTT Technical Research Center of Finland said on Tuesday that through chemical analysis it aims to determine the ingredients and possibly the recipe used in brewing what it called "one of the world's oldest preserved beers."

    VTT scientist Arvi Vilpola said he had "the honourable task" of being the one on the research team to sample the brew.

    "It was a little sour and you could taste the saltiness of it slightly," Vilpola said.

    Divers stumbled across the five beer bottles while salvaging champagne from the wreck near Finland's Aland Islands last July. The schooner is believed to be from the early 19th century.

    Researchers are keen to find out what kind of yeast was used because "the role of yeast in beer brewing was not yet fully understood in the early 1800s," said VTT spokeswoman Annika Wilhelmson.



  • Shipwreck's 'oldest beer' to be analysed, brewed again

    Oldest beer


    By Jason Palmer - BBC News


    Samples of the world's oldest beer have been taken in a bid to determine its recipe - and brew it again.

    In July 2010, a Baltic Sea shipwreck dated between 1800 to 1830 yielded many bottles of what is thought to be the world's oldest champagne.

    Five of the bottles later proved to be the oldest drinkable beer yet found.

    The local government of the Aland island chain where the wreck was found has now commissioned a scientific study to unpick the beer's original recipe.

    Divers found the two-mast ship at a depth of about 50 metres in the Aland archipelago, which stretches between the coasts of Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea.

    The ship was believed to be making a journey between Copenhagen in Denmark and St Petersburg, then the capital of Russia.

    The salvaging operation to bring up 145 champagne bottles - since determined to include vintages from Heidseck, Veuve Clicquot, and Juglar - had one casualty: a bottle that burst open at the surface, revealing itself to be beer.


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  • Shipwreck reveals ancient secrets of medicine

    Archaeological Museum, artifacts from the wreck of Pozzino, lead containers kept in an aquarium


    By Adrian Higgins - Washington Post


    It has been more than 2,000 years since a Roman merchant ship foundered off the west coast of the Italian peninsula and almost 40 years since the wreck was discovered. Now, the DNA trapped in medicines found aboard the ship is yielding secrets of health care in the ancient world.

    Samples from two tablets analyzed at the Smithsonian's Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics reveal a dried concoction of about a dozen medicinal herbs, including celery, alfalfa and wild onion, bound together with clay and zinc.

    The tablets may have been used externally to treat skin conditions or dissolved in water or wine and taken for intestinal ailments such as dysentery, speculates Alain Touwaide, historian of sciences in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

    The DNA tests confirm that medicines written about in ancient texts were actually used, said Touwaide, who with his wife and research partner, Emanuela Appetiti, obtained the tablets from the Italian Department of Antiquities in 2004.


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  • Civil War shipwreck's iconic engine gets TLC

    On the deck of the USS Monitor, looking forward on the starboard side. 1862Photo U.S. Naval Historical Center


    From Our Amazing Planet


    Conservationists are slowly restoring the steam engine of the USS Monitor, an iron-armored warship from the Civil War.

    The order to abandon ship came just after midnight. The USS Monitor, a Union ironclad, was taking on too much water, caught in a violent storm.

    At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 1862, the Monitor was overcome, engulfed by the crashing waves.

    Almost 150 years later, conservators are getting the first up-close look at the sunken Monitor's 30-ton steam engine, an engineering wonder of its day, and the mighty heart of a ship that played a notable role in America's Civil War.

    The USS Monitor went down in treacherous waters 16 miles (25 kilometers) off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras. The wreck was discovered in 1973, resting upside down on the ocean floor in about 235 feet (71 meters) of water.

    In a massive undertaking in 2001, the ship's engine was brought to the surface.

    It was no ordinary steam engine. Designed by Swedish inventor John Ericsson, it was a "vibrating side-lever" engine with pistons that worked horizontally, an innovation that had allowed the compact, 400-horsepower engine to be entirely belowdecks, behind the Monitor's armor and impervious to enemy fire.


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  • A new way to date old ceramics

    Patrick Bowen


    By Marcia Goodrich - Michigan Tech


    If you are an archaeologist, determining when a pot was made is not just a matter of checking the bottom for a time stamp. Dating clay-based materials like ceramics recovered from archeological sites can be time consuming, not to mention complex and expensive.

    Patrick Bowen, a senior majoring in materials science and engineering, is refining a new way of dating ceramic artifacts that could one day shave thousands of dollars off the cost of doing archaeological research.

    Called rehydroxylation dating, the technique was recently developed by researchers at the University of Manchester and the University of Edinburgh. It takes advantage of ceramics’ predictable tendency to bond chemically with water over time.

    “It’s simple,” says Bowen. First, dry the sample at 105 degrees Celcius. This removes any dampness that the ceramic might have absorbed.

    Then, weigh the sample and put it in a furnace at 600 degrees Celsius. The chemically bonded water, in the form of hydroxyl groups (single atoms of hydrogen and oxygen bound together), forms water vapor and evaporates. “When you do that, you mimic what the sample was like when it was originally fired,” says Bowen.

    Then weigh the sample again and leave it alone. Over the next several weeks, the ceramic will react with water in the air and gain weight. Plot the gain against a time constant, and the shape of the curve tells you the age of the ceramic. Theoretically.

    But it ain’t necessarily so, Bowen discovered, working with his advisors, Jaroslaw Drelich, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, and Timothy Scarlett, an associate professor of archaeology and anthropology. “The dating process turns out to be more complicated than the literature suggests,” he says.

    Using shards of pottery dating from 1854 to 1888, which Scarlett provided from an archaeological dig in Utah, Bowen tried out the original dating technique at different temperatures and got significantly different “ages” for the shards.

    He then developed a new equation that addresses those temperature effects, as well as the fact that rehydroxylation is actually a two-step process: First, water vapor physically penetrates the pottery. Then, it bonds chemically to the pottery’s constituent minerals.

    Bowen’s equation worked better, but not well enough to generate definitive dates. Humidity fluctuations affected the samples’ weights, skewing the results. Now the research team is using new methods to provide constant humidity and will run additional tests over the next few months on various types of ceramics of different ages.

    They won’t only be using rare, antique pottery this time, however. “This year we are using broken pieces of brick from the Houghton Parking Deck; it’s easier to come by,” says Bowen.

    “Somebody hit it with their car, and when I saw the pieces, I thought, ‘Oh! Sample!’” If all goes as planned, each of those samples dated by Bowen and fellow researcher Tyler Botbyl, a materials science and engineering junior, will turn out to be about forty years old.

    The researchers believe their work has huge potential. “This will be a new, low-cost tool allowing archaeologists to derive dates from objects made over 10,000 years of human history,” said Scarlett.



  • Restoration efforts on Civil War steam engine progressing

     By Mark St. John Erickson - Newport News Daily Press


    The warship Monitor was rescued from the Atlantic in 2001 after spending nearly 139 years underwater. Only now is the vessel regaining some of its original character.

    When archaeologists and Navy divers recovered the warship Monitor's steam engine from the Atlantic in 2001, the pioneering Civil War propulsion unit was enshrouded in a thick layer of marine concretion.

    Sand, mud and corrosion combined with minerals in the deep waters off Cape Hatteras, N.C., to cloak every feature of Swedish American inventor John Ericsson's ingenious machine, and they continued to envelop the 30-ton artifact after nine years of desalination treatment.

    This month, however, conservators at the Mariners' Museum here and its USS Monitor Center drained the 35,000-gallon solution in which the massive engine was submerged and began removing the 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of concretion with hammers, chisels and other hand tools.

    Working slowly and carefully to avoid harming the engine's original surface, they stripped off more than two tons of encrustation in their first week of work, gradually revealing the details of a naval milestone that had not been seen since the historic Union ironclad sank in a storm in December 1862.

    "This is a technological marvel. It was cutting-edge in its day. But what's really neat is revealing all the wheels, oil cups, valves and other parts that the Monitor's crew used to operate the engine," said conservation project manager Dave Krop.

    "If you consider that it spent nearly 139 years underwater, it's in outstanding shape — though some of the wrought iron has seen better days.

    And there are some copper alloy parts that look brand-new when they're first uncovered — like they just came off the shelf."

    Smaller, more compact, yet just as capable as other steam engines of its day, the Monitor's vibrating side-lever engine was the ideal match for Ericsson's revolutionary warship.

    Its long, low, horizontal cylinder enabled the engineer to place it below the vessel's waterline as well as behind a thick armor belt — and that well-protected position virtually eliminated the vulnerability associated with the much larger and more easily targeted engines of the day, most of which towered above the deck of a ship.

    Ericsson was so confident in his engine's capabilities that he ignored orders to equip the vessel with masts and rigging.

    And it astounded Union and Confederate observers with the way it performed in its historic clash with the rebel warship Virginia — also known as the Merrimac — in the March 8, 1862, Battle of Hampton Roads.


    Read more...



  • Hunley lab stabilizes artifacts

    By Robert Behre - The Sun News


    Sometimes, archaeologists don't want to find certain artifacts because they don't have the money to properly care for them.

    That was partly the case last year, as archaeologists with the Charleston Museum, assisted by College of Charleston students, explored the wet muck at the bottom of one of the city's earliest walls.

    "It was a worry," said archaeologist Martha Zierden. "Conservation is a long and expensive process."

    Their dig did unearth a few dozen soggy leather shoe remnants and other pieces of wood that had been well-preserved by the anaerobic environment of the wet clay.

    If the water in the wood and leather wasn't replaced gradually, the items would fall apart.

    So the Walled City Task Force turned to Clemson's Conservation Center for help.

    It took a year, but the lab - created to analyze and conserve the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley that was salvaged off the coast in August 2000 - was able to use its equipment to stabilize the leather, a few small wooden pieces and a metal tube believed to be either a tool or a gun.

    Zierden and Katherine Saunders of the Historic Charleston Foundation recently retrieved the conserved items from Clemson's head conservator Paul Mardikian. The items included a leather sole held together with wooden pegs. Another sole that had metal nails is preserved in a sealed envelope with silica gel.

    "This should be stable," Mardikian said of the artifacts. "You shouldn't have any problems with them for a number and number and number of years."

    The lab conservation work took several steps over the course of a year.

    Mardikian said while the Hunley is the lab's primary focus, he was happy it can provide an occasional gift to the wider community. He understood that the archaeology can carry risk if a dig unearths items that are costly to conserve.

    "Any excavation is like a Pandora's box," Mardikian said. "You open it and you'll never know what you'll find."

    Clemson handled all the waterlogged artifacts except for two large timbers sent to a special lab in Maryland.

    The leather and wooden fragments represent just a tiny slice of the tens of thousands of artifacts unearthed during the 2008 and 2009 digs at South Adgers Wharf and East Bay Street.

    Zierden said the cataloguing of those artifacts, taken from some 300 separate sections, is almost finished, and a full report could be done next year.


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  • Freeze-drying history

    Peter Fix, the conservator of La Belle, Lasalle's flagshipPhoto Julio Cortez


    By Allan Turner - Houston Chronicle


    A&M archaeologists find a way to accelerate preservation of 17th-century shipwreck.

    Since its discovery in Matagorda Bay 15 years ago, the French ship La Belle has yielded a treasure trove of artifacts that offer unprecedented insight into 17th-century exploration of the New World.

    Weapons, trade goods, medical and navigational instruments — part of the approximately 1 million items plucked from the bay bottom — have found homes in Texas museums.

    But the biggest, arguably most significant recovery — a massive section of the ship's oak hull — has remained out of sight, submerged in a tank of preservative at Texas A&M University's nautical archaeology conservation lab.

    The process of replacing water in the sodden timbers with polyethylene glycol, begun in 2004, could have taken up to nine more years to complete. But now, with the purchase of what is thought to be the hemisphere's largest archaeological freeze-dryer, conservationists believe they have found a better, cheaper way to finish the work in far less time.

    In coming months, segments of the ship's 54-foot-long, 14-foot-wide hull, will be transferred to the dryer for processing. In October 2013, the newly conserved hull will be unveiled at Austin's Bob Bullock State History Museum, where it will be reassembled - in view of museum visitors - over a 10-month period.

    The hull will be the centerpiece of a 6,000-square-foot exhibit on the Belle and its role in French exploration of Texas.

    The ship, one of four explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, brought to America in search of the Mississippi River's mouth, sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686.

    Texas Historical Commission nautical archaeologists discovered the Belle's remains in 1995, calling them one of the New World's most exciting shipwrecks.

    "The exciting thing about the hull reaching completion, aside from the conservation of a major artifact, is that it's an icon of an event that transformed Texas history," said Jim Bruseth, historical commission archaeology director.

    The ship's sinking, he said, contributed to the failure of La Salle's Fort Saint Louis colony near present-day Inez and opened the door to Spanish domination of the region.

    "We could very well have been a state with a French heritage," Bruseth said.


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  • Conservation of the royal warship Vasa evaluated

    Vasa


    From eurekalert.org


    The conservation of the royal warship Vasa, which sank in Stockholm on her maiden voyage in 1628 and was raised in 1961, has provided a unique insight into how large waterlogged wooden archaeological relics can be preserved for the future, reveals an evaluation of the conservation programme by a researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

    "I hope that the importance of the conservation of the Vasa will be recognised and provide inspiration and guidance for other attempts to stabilise the dimensions of waterlogged archaeological timber.

    As conservation projects of this kind are not carried out all the time, my thesis is a way of preserving experience," says Birgitta Håfors from the Department of Conservation at the University of Gothenburg.

    After spending her entire career as a chemist working on the conservation of the Vasa, the now retired Håfors has evaluated the conservation programmes using polyethylene glycol (PEG) that was chosen for the vessel's hull and loose wooden items.

    At the age of 75, she is now presenting a doctoral thesis on the treatment developed for the warship and used from 1962 until January 1979.

    The evaluation focuses particularly on the ability of PEG to prevent or reduce shrinkage during the drying-out of waterlogged archaeological timber, with special emphasis on the oak of the Vasa.

    "It turned out that there was often shrinkage during the actual treatment, especially when timber was treated in baths of the preservative solution. This phenomenon is due to water molecules migrating out of the waterlogged timber and into the preservative solution more quickly than the PEG molecules move the other way."

    In her research, Håfors conducted experiments to find the ideal temperatures and concentrations of the preservative solution to prevent waterlogged wood from shrinking during the actual preservative treatment.

    "I soon realised that temperature-raising programmes were unsuitable, as they increased the tendency for water molecules to leave the timber. For the conservation of wood from the Vasa in baths, therefore, a stable temperature was chosen, namely 60°C.


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  • Work under way to restore Muskogee's USS Batfish

    USS Batfish


    By Lacie Lowry - The News On 6


    A massive restoration project is under way in Muskogee on a true war hero.

    The USS Batfish is a World War II submarine that's highly decorated with military honors, but her condition has highly deteriorated over the years.

    A group of Active Duty and Reserve Chief Petty Officers of the United States Navy spent Saturday painting the USS Batfish black, restoring the submarine to her glory days of World War II.

    "It amazes me how many people don't realize we have a sub in Oklahoma. To see a sub to begin with is a treasure, to see a World War II sub is an even bigger treasure," said Rick Dennis, Muskogee War Memorial Park Manager.

    The officers working are from across Oklahoma and northern Texas. They have volunteered their time as part of their naval training.

    "We're trying to give back to the community what the Navy has given us. It's been one of the best parts of our lives and it's given us great things," said MMC Casey Bills, United States Navy.

    The project not only restores the sub, but preserves our history, too.

    "She was commissioned in 1943. That makes her well over 60-years-old and she has seen some action and it tells a story," said Dennis.

    And what a story she has. The USS Batfish was a sub killer. In February of 1945, she sank three Japanese subs in only 76 hours, a naval record that still stands today.


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  • The race to preserve shipwrecks, artifacts

    Underwater Heritage Program Directorate/Adhi Perwira 
    Credit: Underwater Heritage Program Directorate/Adhi Perwira


    By Andrea Booth - The Jakarta Post


    Lack of finance, technology and trained divers, the attempt to sell sunken artifacts — not to mention looters — appear to be hindering the potential to conserve Indonesia’s abundant underwater heritage, a topic under hot discussion of late.

    The Underwater Heritage Program Directorate (PBA) under the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s Directorate General of History and Archaeology is keen to set up a system to overcome these challenges.

    “Our objective is to preserve these culturally valuable remnants of our past,” Gunawan, chief director of the PBA said.

    The directorate recently conducted five dives over 10 days to recover artifacts in the Karimunjawa region, Jepara, Central Java.

    “We want the artifacts we have uncovered to stay and be looked after in Indonesia so that citizens and generations to come can learn more about the role Indonesia has played in the maritime industry from the 9th to the 19th centuries.” The PBA said in a press statement it would also help boost the tourism industry.

    This initiative is not without challenges, however. Gunawan says the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry Pannas BMKT’s (the national committee of excavation and utilization of precious artifacts from sunken ships) commercializing of artifacts, including the unsuccessful auction early May of treasure reportedly worth US$80 billion, is devaluing Indonesia’s history.

    Pannas BMKT’s secretary general Sudirman Saad recently told The Jakarta Post that artifacts the state wanted to preserve were held in a government warehouse in Cileungsi, West Java, with the remainder stocked in a privately owned warehouse in Pamulang, South Jakarta.

    Gunawan said he was concerned that precious artifacts would not be preserved and wanted to encourage people to value them — as well as shipwrecks — more so they could learn more about their past and enhance national pride.

    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) agreed that selling the underwater artifacts meant Indonesia would lose its valuable heritage. “Exploiting an archaeological site and dispersing its artifacts is an irreversible process. Yet the contents of the shipwreck found off the coast of the city of Cirebon have much to tell us about cultural and commercial exchanges in the region at that time,” UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said in a press statement.

    While Gunawan said it would take time to build a solid system to extract and preserve the artifacts, and gain people’s interest, he believed this goal could still be reached.

    “People may be worried that [we may not have the technology], especially in Indonesia, and this may be because there has never been a preservation process undertaken before,” Gunawan said. “But we have to start at some point and I’m sure we are capable.”


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  • USS Olympia seeks a new caretaker

    USS Olympia


    By Edward Colimore - Philly


    During the Spanish-American War, Navy Commodore George Dewey stood on the bridge of the ship and uttered the words that became famous: "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."

    The vessel's mighty guns fired the first shots of the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, announcing the United States as an international power.

    The USS Olympia was the Navy's state-of-the-art flagship, a source of pride for a country flexing its muscles.

    More than a century later, this last surviving vessel of the Spanish-American War fleet and longtime Penn's Landing attraction is looking for a new home and benefactor with deep pockets.

    Its owner, the Independence Seaport Museum, can no longer afford the upkeep and it told the Navy it "will relinquish its stewardship of this national naval treasure and its valuable artifact collections," said Peter McCausland, chairman of the museum's Board of Port Wardens.

    The museum seeks an owner who can pay up to $30 million to tow, restore, interpret, and endow the bedraggled-looking vessel.

    Small portions of the Olympia's half-inch steel hull along the water line have corroded to the point that only an eighth of an inch of thickness is left.

    The hull must be continually monitored and is often patched, even as water leaks through parts of the deck into the interior, causing further rust.

    "We don't like to see the ship go, but you don't want to sink the entire museum because of the cost of maintaining" the Olympia, said the Independence Seaport's interim president, James McLane. "The museum is very financially sound, but if you put a drag on it, that puts it at risk over the next several years."


    More to read...



  • Race to preserve the world's oldest submerged town

    From PhysOrg


    The oldest submerged town in the world is about to give up its secrets — with the help of equipment that could revolutionise underwater archaeology.

    The ancient town of Pavlopetri lies in three to four metres of water just off the coast of southern Laconia in Greece. The ruins date from at least 2800 BC through to intact buildings, courtyards, streets, chamber tombs and some thirty-seven cist graves which are thought to belong to the Mycenaean period (c.1680-1180 BC).

    This Bronze Age phase of Greece provides the historical setting for much Ancient Greek literature and myth, including Homer's Age of Heroes.

    Underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson, from The University of Nottingham, will be the first archaeologist to have official access to the site in 40 years.

    Despite its potential international importance no work has been carried out at the site since it was first mapped in 1968 and Dr Henderson has had to get special permission from the Greek government to examine the submerged town.

    Although Mycenaean power was largely based on their control of the sea, little is known about the workings of the harbour towns of the period as archaeology to date has focused on the better known inland palaces and citadels.

    Pavlopetri was presumably once a thriving harbour town where the inhabitants conducted local and long distance trade throughout the Mediterranean — its sandy and well-protected bay would have been ideal for beaching Bronze Age ships.

    As such the site offers major new insights into the workings of Mycenaean society.


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  • Sailors help restore museum's relics

    Museum enthousiasts


    By Dan Broadstreet


    Not far from the building’s interior relics, including copper ingots from a sunken Spanish Galleon, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City (NSWC PCD) Commander, Capt. Andrew Buduo III, and a team of volunteer Sailors painted the Man in the Sea Museum’s exterior exhibits Feb. 20 before entering for a tour of the museum’s artifacts.

    “What we’re painting here are the Remote Minehunting Systems prototypes, which the Navy Base donated to the museum some time ago,” Buduo said.

    Some time ago dates back to the late 70s, according to Museum Manager, Leslie Baker, who is a diver with experience in the Underwater Crime Scene Investigation (USCI) program at Florida State University. Baker’s diving background also includes diving on wrecks.

    “The museum is a non-profit organization owned by the Institute of Diving, which was formed in 1977,” Baker said. “Before the museum was established at its current location in 1982, it used to reside in the lower level of a local restaurant, which doesn’t exist anymore. Long-time residents knew this dining spot as ‘The Four Winds.’”

    Baker said the museum exists to preserve the history of diving, much of its heritage having originated locally at the Naval Support Activity Panama City. She said the NSWC PCD, the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center and the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) have all contributed, quite literally, to putting ‘man in the sea.’ Baker pointed out one of the largest exterior exhibits in particular.

    “Sea Lab—that big red capsule-shaped chamber displayed out front was the very first underwater habitat that people actually lived in under the ocean, and it was built right here at our Navy Base,” Baker said. “Bob Barth, a former employee at NEDU and a current member on our board of directors, was actually one of the four aquanauts who lived inside of it.”


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  • Ancient Greek vessel docks for Pompey refit

    By Andrew Johnson

     

    The most complete ancient Greek ship ever found – which is being painstakingly pieced back together by marine archaeology experts in Portsmouth – is shown here as it would probably have looked when it sailed around the Greek islands at the time of Homer.

    Discovered in silt off the coast of Sicily, the vessel is believed to be around 2,500 years old. It arrived in boxes at the Mary Rose Centre in Portsmouth Harbour last week for what is expected to be a 10-year programme of preservation and reconstruction.

    Archaeologists believe the craft was heading for Gela, then a Greek colony, when it was caught in a storm and sank with its cargo. Charles Barker, of the Mary Rose Centre, said: "It has an elm keel, an oak frame and pine planking. It is the most complete Greek trading vessel yet found."



  • Preserving metal artifacts

    By Bill Young

     

    Knowledge of the process for conserving and/or preserving metal artifacts, coins or tombstones is very different from cleaning and preserving tombstones made out of stone.

    First of all is the fact there are so many different combinations or alloys utilized in the making of an artifact, coin or tombstone.

    Secondly and most importantly is to keep in mind whatever is attacking the metal object has been doing this over an extended period of time. With this in mind, stopping and reversing the process needs to be done at a very patient rate.

    Metal artifacts recovered from a variety of archeological sites can have all kinds of negative processes working to destroy the object. For instance, any type of metal artifact recovered from a salt water environment such as the Gulf of Mexico has been going through changes ever since it entered the water.

    Many readers may remember the excavation work carried out several years ago in the middle of Matagorda Bay. The remains of one of La Salle’s ships, The Belle, was discovered utilizing a remote sensing device dragged behind a boat.

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  • New research commitment to save Sweden's famous Royal Warship, the Vasa

    Vasa

     

    From ScienceDaily

     

    How should the humidity, temperature, and light be set to preserve Sweden's famous royal warship Vasa for posterity ? How much and how quickly are the ship's wood and preservative breaking down, and how is the ship's stability being affected by this ?

    Researchers are now going to study the degradation processes and test new methods for determine their speed, including the monitoring of how much oxygen is consumed. They will also trying out new methods for removing iron and neutralizing acids to stop the degradation. A major co-financed project will provide SEK 18 million.

    The royal warship Vasa is one of Sweden's best known and most frequently visited tourist attractions. The ship and the objects it carried are a source of knowledge about the living conditions, culture, and technology of the 17th century.

    "It is urgent and important to contribute to research that can enable us to preserve the ship for posterity," says Rolf Annerberg, director general of the Swedish Research Council Formas, one of the financiers behind the new research project.

     

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