Students discover shipwreck treasures in the tanks

Artifacts from the shipwreck of Modern Greece, a Civil War era blockade runner that sank in June 1862


From N.C. Department of Cultural Resources


While their peers may be wiling away spring break on the sunny beaches of Key West or the Bahamas, 11 graduate students from East Carolina University (ECU) and two interns from UNC-Wilmington, are looking for treasure in murky tanks of crusty old objects.

They are examining artifacts from the shipwreck of Modern Greece, a Civil War era blockade runner that sank in June 1862.

Under the direction of Susanne Grieve, director of conservation for ECU’s Maritime History program; and Nathan Henry, assistant state archaeologist, Underwater Archaeology Branch, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the students will examine some of the 11,500 artifacts that were recovered from the wreck which was discovered lying just 300 yards off Fort Fisher in 25 feet of water in 1962.

Some of the artifacts were conserved and now are exhibited at the N.C. Maritime Museums in Beaufort and Southport, the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh and other museums in and out of state. Thousands more remain to be researched.

The students will determine the type and condition of artifacts, and will record, catalog, photograph, and evaluate future conservation needs. From water filled tanks the students have retrieved cases of Enfield rifle muskets, antler handled knives, hand cuffs, hoes, picks, and other 1860s farm and household goods.


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civil war East Carolina university shipwreck Modern Greece blockade runner UNC-Wilmington