Colonial-era shipwreck found

Chuck Meide and Devin O'Meara

By Andrea Asuaje - The St. Augustine Record

Archaeologists from the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program have found a potential colonial shipwreck buried under the sand about a mile off the coast and north of the St. Augustine Beach pier.

The scientists found a cauldron, thousands of lead shot, a glass base and a second cooking vessel about 400 meters from the site of where the ship the "Industry" sank in 1764.

The newly discovered ship could be older than the "Industry," said Chuck Meide, director of the archaeological program. If that's so, the shipwreck would be the oldest known one off the waters of St. Johns County, Meide said.

Scientists found the shipwreck in August, but only announced the discovery Friday. The site is about a mile offshore, south of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and north of the St. Augustine Beach pier.

Meide calls the wreck a "true time capsule."

"This is the first completely buried shipwreck that has ever been found off of St. Augustine," he said. "It's pretty unique."

Because the new shipwreck is completely covered by sand, items from the ship may be better preserved than the wreck of the "Industry," he said.

He also said there could be other ships not yet discovered in the area.

"There could be a hundred shipwrecks out there," Meide said.

Archeologists found the area in August by using sophisticated technology to find buried objects. Using that they were able to locate the general area of the wreck. Then they used unsophisticated methods -- feeling with their hands in the sand -- to find buried objects. Meide calls it "archeology by braille."

That's how they found the first cauldron along with wooden planks and other items from the wreck.

In June, the group returned to the area and began working on the site. They found glass, lead shot and a second cauldron last week.

Meide said he and those working on the site are thrilled about the discovery and want to find out basic information about the ship: its function, where it sailed from and how old it is.

After that, it's about piecing together the history of the ship itself.


archaeology America

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