An underwater archeology project coordinated from a high-tech command center in Galveston has discovered a centuries-old clock amid the debris of a shipwreck found in the Gulf of Mexico.
Deep in the briny waters of the gulf, the timepiece’s round face marked with Roman numerals -- spotted in live images transmitted by a robotic vehicle – delighted scientists spending much of this week remotely exploring a debris field from what apparently was a disaster at sea in the early 1800s.
As the darkened control room at Texas A&M Galveston echoed with scientists’ voices crying out “That’s a chronometer !” and “No way !,” a computer monitor showed what looked like the hand of a clock pointing toward numbers that ringed the round rim of the clock’s face.
“Now, that’s cool!” said Kim Faulk, a marine archeologist working on the project.
The distinctive timepiece deepened archeologists’ suspicions that nobody escaped the lost vessel alive. Under anything but an extreme emergency, they suspect, sailors leaving the ship during that era would almost certainly have taken the clock, a valuable piece of nautical equipment.
The clock is only one of the latest discoveries from a debris field found about 175 miles off the coast of Galveston in 2011.
Images beamed back from the site show the ghostly remains of three ships that marine archeologists believe sank about two centuries ago.
“This, we believe, is a telescope,” said Dr. Steve Gittings of National Marine Sanctuaries with NOAA, pointing toward a picture transmitted from the shipwreck.
“Right here, with the glass lenses broken out of it, probably because of pressure when the ship sank.”