Delaware archaeologists turned to a Sussex County hospital this week hoping to find some clues surrounding a marine mystery.
On Wednesday, radiology staff at Beebe Medical Center X-rayed multiple artifacts pulled from the waters of the Roosevelt Inlet near Lewes.
The pieces belong to an unidentified shipwreck about 15 feet below the surface but are too difficult to identify by plain eye. The hope was an X-ray could provide an inside look at artifacts that may help identify the sunken vessel.
"We're using techniques we've never really used before," radiology technician Josh Wyatt said. "It was through trial and error that we got the images we got."
The vessel was first discovered by accident during a beach replenishment project in 2004, archaeologist Faye Stocum said. Thousands of artifacts from the shipwreck were pulled from the water during a dive operation about two years later or washed ashore, Stocum said. Initial guesses from experts suggest the ship went down no earlier than 1772 and possibly as late as 1780.
Stocum arrived at Beebe with a green shoe box full of items, including a cylinder-shaped object believed to be an old piece of medical equipment, possibly a syringe. The problem, the outer shell was so dense even the equipment had trouble penetrating the covering.
Images of another item, believed to be a piece of wax, showed small metal objects inside similar to safety pins. Stocum quickly noted that the safety pin had not yet been invented at the time of the perceived sinking.