By Randy Boswell - The Gazette
This summer's discovery of the 19th-century wreck of the HMS Investigator, announced in July by a team of Parks Canada researchers scanning Arctic waters off Banks Island, has been named one of the 10 most important archeological finds of 2010 by the world's leading publication in the field.
Archaeology magazine unveiled a top 10 list this week that includes the discoveries of ancient tombs in Asia and Central America, the decoding of the Neanderthal genome by European scientists and the unearthing of the bones of a 3.6-million-year-old human ancestor in Ethiopia.
The discovery of the Investigator, a key vessel in the history of the Northwest Passage and the establishment of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, marks the first time a Canada-based archeological find has been recognized by the prestigious U.S.-based magazine since it began publishing its annual list of the world's best new historical treasures in 2006.
"Decades from now people may remember 2010 for the BP oil spill, the Tea Party, and the iPad. But for our money, it's a lock people will still be excited about the year's most remarkable archaeological discoveries," the magazine stated in unveiling its list.
"This was the year we learned that looters led archaeologists to spectacular and unparalleled royal tombs in both Turkey and Guatemala.
An unexpected find brought us closer to Pocahontas, and an underwater archaeological survey in the high Canadian Arctic located the ill-fated HMS Investigator, abandoned in 1853."
The listing by the magazine, which is published by the Boston-based Archaeological Institute of America, has capped a banner year for Parks Canada's underwater archeology division.
The unit is planning a followup study of the newly found wreck site next year, along with a third season of searching for the Sir John Franklin-commanded ships -Terror and Erebus -that the crew of the Investigator never found.