Posts Tagged With: shipwreck

‘Royal Treasure’ Brought Up From Hawaiian King’s 191-Year-Old Shipwreck….


LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — A museum in Hawaii is preparing to open a treasure-trove of artifacts from the shipwreck of a royal yacht sunk off the coast of Kauai 191 years ago.

Richard Rogers, a Hawaii shipwreck chaser, worked with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution to dredge up the findings from the ship owned by King Kamehameha II, aka Liholiho, the second king of Hawaii.

“We found gold, silver, Hawaiian poi pounders, gemstones, a boat whistle, knives, forks, mica, things from all over the world, high- and low-end European stuff. Every bit of it is royal treasure,” Rogers said.

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A cupid furniture mount in the Empire style, originally gilded, was found in the wreckage of a ship belonging to King Kamehameha II, aka Liholiho, the second king of Hawaii, which sunk off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii in 1824. The cupid is sharpening an arrow on a lubricated grind stone. (AP/Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Harold Dorwin)

Rogers volunteered his time aboard his research vessel, the Pilialoha, over a five year period in four-week intervals from 1995 to 2001 to pull up the treasures.

“It’s all pickled and nice and ready to be displayed,” Rogers said. “There are over a thousand artifacts. We did our homework and this find is invaluable because it all belonged to the king. It is a fabulous window into the 1820s.”

Rogers said the king’s belongings were buried in 10 feet of water and 10 feet of sand. His favorite discovery was a trumpet shell.

“I found it under a bunch of sand and carried it onto the deck. This was in 1999. I blew it and it made the most beautiful sound going out over Hanalei Bay,” Rogers recalled. “I thought about how it hadn’t been blown in over 170 years.”

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This photo provided by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History on April 8, 2015 in conjunction with the upcoming book “Shipwrecked in Paradise: Cleopatra’s Barge in Hawaii,” shows a sampling of Hawaiian artifacts found in the wreckage. At center is the royal pu, or conch horn. Around it are ulu maika game stones, pounders, canoe breakers, and a stone rubber. (AP/Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Richard Strauss)

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A vegetal ivory finger ring was found. (AP/Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Hugh Talman)

Kamehameha II purchased the yacht from George Crowninshield II, who named it “Cleopatra’s Barge” in 1816. According to historian and Kauai Museum volunteer Zenon Wong, it cost $50,000 to build the 192 ton yacht. Rogers said it was the first luxury ocean-going yacht built in the United States.

Wong said reports were conflicting about the condition of the crew of the 83-foot long ship, which had been renamed Ha?aheo o Hawai?i (“Pride of Hawaii”). Some documents indicate everyone on board was drunk April 6, 1824, when the ship went aground on a shallow reef. Other historical accounts report everyone was intoxicated except the captain. The cause of the wreck is unfounded but speculation shows it may have been the combination of an unexpected wind gale and a snapped anchor cable. There are no reports that anyone died aboard the ship, which was crewed entirely by Hawaiians.

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A watercolor painting by Capt. Richard W. Rogers contains historical and archaeological information on the ship belonging to King Kamehameha II, aka Liholiho. (AP/Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Richard W. Rogers)

The principal value of the artifacts is historical, said Paul F. Johnston, Ph.D., Curator of Maritime History at the National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution. They represent the only known objects from the short but intense reign of Kamehameha II, the man who abolished the Hawaiian kapu (taboo) socio-cultural system and allowed Christian missionaries into the kingdom.

“He only reigned from 1819 -1824, but Old Hawaii changed forever and irrevocably from the changes he put into place during that short period. He was an important member of our nation’s only authentic royalty,” Johnston said.

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This is a diagram of the wreckage of the stern of the ship. (AP/Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Thomas Ormsby)

The State of Hawaii owns the artifacts and loaned them to the Smithsonian for conservation and study. The findings were in the custody of the Smithsonian from the time of their recovery, with the exception of some artifacts going to the Underwater Conservation Lab at Texas A&M University. Those objects were returned to the Smithsonian after cataloging, conservation and stabilization. Several years ago a sampling of the artifacts were displayed at the Smithsonian.

Four crates of recovered artifacts weighing nearly 1,200 pounds were delivered to The Kauai Museum in March. Two to three additional crates are scheduled for delivery and will complete the collection.

Kauai Museum Director Jane Gray said she expects to open the crates soon and unveil the contents to the public after everything has been carefully unpacked.

Categories: Archaeology, gold, gold coins, Legends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ship of Gold” 156 years later renders its first five bars valued at 1.2 million dollars…


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For 156 years the so-called “Ship of Gold”, along with thousands of coins, bars and nuggets of gold, lay at the bottom of the briny Atlantic, producing dreams of riches and heated legal debates over who could dredge up the sunken treasure that went under the waves in 1857.

While deep-sea treasure hunters discovered the SS Central America in 1988 and were able to haul up some gold coins, along with boasting that one billion dollars of treasure lay off the coast of Palmetto state, over a decade of courtroom drama involving upset insurers and irate investors that have kept the gold a mile and a half below water.

But now, with the legal debacle finally cleared-up, Tampa Bay’s Odyssey Marine Exploration dropped its first robot into the Atlantic last month and returned to shore with five gold bars weighing 66 pounds valued at about 1.2 million as pure metal – and even more as artifacts. Excited by their findings, executives at Odyssey Marine Exploration hope to continue to scour for more gold and continue to explore the shipwreck.

Christened in 1853 as the SS George Law when it was first launched, the SS Central America was a 280 feet long steamship that operated the Atlantic leg of the San Francisco to New York voyages during the California Gold Rush. At its time on the seas it made 43 trips between Panama and New York.

“We want to show that it can be done right,” Gregory Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive, said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Experts believe that the SS Central America could contain a commercial shipment of gold valued at 93,000 dollars in 1857 prices and gold owned by passengers on the ship valued at between 250,000 and 1.28 million dollars could be locked away.

Along with the gold, Odyssey Marine Exploration’s remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), named Zeus, picked up a bottle, a piece of pottery, a sample of the shipwreck’s wooden structure and part of a scientific experiment that had been left at the site during a previous trip 20 years before.

“The skill exhibited and results achieved during the initial reconnaissance dive reinforces our belief that the Odyssey team was the absolute best choice for this project,” Craig Mullen, director of operations for the Recovery Limited Partnership, said in a statement according to Scientific American.

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Archaeologists are determined to halt the excavation…..


MOD ACCUSED OF ALLOWING THE ‘PLUNDER’ OF A SHIPWRECK…..

The Ministry of Defence is facing a legal battle and parliamentary questions after letting a US company excavate a British 18th-century warship laden with a potentially lucrative cargo.
Lord Renfrew is among leading archaeologists condemning a deal struck over HMS Victory, considered the world’s mightiest ship when she sank in the Channel in 1744.
In return for excavating the vessel’s historic remains, which may include gold and silver worth many millions of pounds, Odyssey Marine Exploration is entitled to receive “a percentage of the recovered artefacts’ fair value” or “artefacts in lieu of cash”.
Lord Renfrew, a Cambridge academic, said: “That is against the Unesco convention, in particular against the annexe, which states that underwater cultural heritage may not be sold off or exploited for commercial gain. Odyssey is a commercial salvager. It’s not clear that payment could be obtained other than by the sale of the artefacts which are raised – which, of course, is how Odyssey has operated in the past. To raise artefacts simply for sale would be regarded by most responsible archaeologists as plundering.”
Two bronze guns have already been recovered from the wreck and sold to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, funded out of the MoD’s grant.
The archaeologists accuse the MoD of dereliction of duty in passing responsibility for the wreck to the Maritime Heritage Foundation (MHF), a charitable trust “which appears to have no financial, archaeological or management resources” while embarking on a project “that will cost millions”.
Archaeologists are determined to halt the excavation and are taking advice from maritime lawyers. The issue was raised by the All-party Parliamentary Archaeology Group.
An Odyssey spokeswoman said that the MHF will work with an advisory group including representatives from the MoD and English Heritage, “to ensure that best archaeological practices are adopted in line with the annexe”.

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Researchers: We may have found a fabled sunstone..Used by the Vikings?


sunstone
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A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.
In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal — a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel — worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.
That’s because of a property known as birefringence, which splits light beams in a way that can reveal the direction of their source with a high degree of accuracy. Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn’t present a problem.
“You don’t have to understand how it works,” said Albert Le Floch, of the University in Rennes in western France. “Using it is basically easy.”
Vikings were expert navigators — using the sun, stars, mountains and even migratory whales to help guide them across the sea — but some have wondered at their ability to travel the long stretches of open water between Greenland, Iceland, and Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.
Le Floch is one of several who’ve suggested that calcite crystals were used as navigational aids for long summer days in which the sun might be hidden behind the clouds. He said the use of such crystals may have persisted into the 16th century, by which time magnetic compasses were widely used but often malfunctioned.
Le Floch noted that one Icelandic legend — the Saga of St. Olaf — appears to refer to such a crystal when it says that Olaf used a “sunstone” to verify the position of the sun on a snowy day.
But that’s it. Few other medieval references to sunstones have been found, and no such crystals have ever been recovered from Viking tombs or ships. Until the Alderney Crystal was recovered in 2002, there had been little if any hard evidence to back the theory.
Many specialists are still skeptical. Donna Heddle, the director of the Center for Nordic Studies at Scotland’s University of the Highlands and Islands, described the solar compass hypothesis as speculative.
“There’s no solid evidence that that device was used by Norse navigators,” she said Friday. “There’s never been one found in a Viking boat. One cannot help but feel that if there were such things they would be found in graves.”
She acknowledged that the crystal came from Iceland and was found near a navigation tool, but said it might just as easily have been used as a magnifying device as a solar compass.
Le Floch argued that one of the reasons why no stones have been found before is that calcite degrades quickly — it’s vulnerable to acid, sea salts, and to heat. The Alderney Crystal was originally transparent, but the sea water had turned it a milky white.
Le Floch’s paper — written with Guy Ropars, Jacques Lucas, and a group of Britons from the Alderney Maritime Trust — appeared Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

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3-D sonar provides new view of Civil War shipwreck…..


ship
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The remains of the only U.S. Navy ship sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during Civil War combat now can be seen in 3-D sonar images from the Gulf’s murky depths, revealing details such as a shell hole that may have been among the ship’s fatal wounds.
The high-resolution images of the 210-foot, iron-hulled USS Hatteras are being released this month to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the battle where the ship was lost. Besides the shell hole, they also show previously unknown details like a paddle wheel and the ship’s stern and rudder emerging from the shifting undersea sands about 20 miles off the coast of Galveston.
“This vessel is a practically intact time capsule sealed by mud and sand, and what is there will be the things that help bring the crew and ship to life in a way,” said Jim Delgado, the project’s leader and director of maritime heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
“You can fly through the wreck, you’re getting a view no diver can get,” Delgado said.
The Hatteras had sat mostly undisturbed and unnoticed from January 1863 — when a Confederate raider sunk the ship and took most of the crew prisoner — until its discovery in the early 1970s.
Recent storms shifted the sand and mud where the Hatteras rests 57 feet below the surface, exposing more of the ship. So archaeologists and technicians, racing to beat any potential seabed movement that could conceal the Hatteras again, spent two days last September scanning the wreckage using sonar imaging technology for the first time at sea.
Divers used the 3-D gear to map the site in the silt-filled water where visibility is from near zero to only a few feet. The water’s murkiness doesn’t affect sonar technology like it would regular photography equipment. Sonar technology produces computer-colored images by analyzing sound waves bouncing off objects.
“We have very crisp, measureable images that show the bulk of the steam machinery in the engine room is there,” Delgado said. “Some of it is knocked over, been toppled, which suggests we probably have 60 percent of the vessel buried.”
Also revealed were platforms for the ship’s 32-pounder guns, named for the size of the cast-iron shell the cannon delivered, and the bow.
“Very exciting,” said Jami Durham, manager of historic properties, research and special programs for the Galveston Historical Foundation. “We knew the ship was out there, and to finally see the images. It seemed to make it more real.”
The imaging plots the paddle wheel shaft, which appears to have been bent when the ship capsized, and damage to engine room machinery, including the shell hole that likely helped doom the ship, Delgado said.
The Hatteras site is in waters administered by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The ship itself, even 150 years later, remains U.S. Navy property.
The 1,126-ton Hatteras was built in 1861 in Wilmington, Del., as a civilian steamship, according to the Navy Historical Center. It was purchased by the Navy later that year, commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and assigned to join the blockade of the Florida coast to keep vessels from delivering supplies and war weapons and ammunition to the Confederacy.
The ship had an active tour in Florida, raiding Cedar Keys. It destroyed at least seven schooners and facilities before being transferred to the Gulf.
On Jan. 6, 1863, the Hatteras joined the fleet commanded by David Farragut, of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” U.S. Navy fame, for similar assignments off Galveston. At the time, Galveston was the most prominent city and port in Texas, which had joined the Confederacy.
Days earlier, Union forces had been expelled by Confederate troops in the Battle of Galveston, considered the most significant military event in Galveston history.
On Jan. 11, the Hatteras spotted and tracked down a three-masted ship that identified itself as British, then opened fire from 25 to 200 yards away and revealed it actually was the CSS Alabama, a notorious Confederate raider credited with some 60 kills.
Forty-three minutes later, the Hatteras was burning and taking on water. Cmdr. Homer Blake surrendered and he and his crew were taken aboard the Alabama as prisoners, eventually winding up in Jamaica. Of the 126-man crew, two were lost and are believed entombed in the wreck.
The two crewmen, William Healy, 32, a coal heaver, and John Cleary, 24, a stoker, were from Ireland.
“Two of those guys paid the ultimate price,” Delgado said. “This is a place where history happened and people died … giving their all, making a choice to follow their captain and likely die, to try to do their duty and to serve.”

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Button found on St. Augustine shipwreck ‘the smoking gun’ to its identity……



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A corroded uniform button found in the mud off the St. Augustine Beach pier could be the “smoking gun” that leads to identifying a mystery shipwreck.

And the copper coin with a face of what could be Britain’s King George found by a Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program volunteer just adds to evidence that the wreck could be part of a British Revolutionary War fleet that fled Charleston in 1782.

The corroded button bears the number 74. That means it came off a 74th Regiment British Army uniform of Cambell’s Highlanders, assembled in Scotland in 1777 to fight rebels in North America. When the British fled the American army’s advance into Charleston, half the fleet headed into the St. Johns River in Jacksonville and the rest went to St. Augustine.

There, 16 of them wrecked on Dec. 31, including the escort ship Rattlesnake, said Chuck Meide, archaeology director at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum program.

“This is a smoking gun,” Meide said. “This confirms the ship we are digging on was in the evacuation of Charleston.”

The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program seeks and preserves the underwater history off the nation’s oldest city. Begun in 1996, it has targeted more than 50 possible wrecks. One was the British sloop Industry, which sank in 1764 just south of the current lighthouse. Divers recovered numerous artifacts including a cannon and tools that never made it to St. Augustine’s British outpost.

The current site under investigation was targeted in 2009 and has yielded cauldrons, a bell, a flintlock pistol, two British cannons and a musket with what looks like a bayonet on top. Working on a meter-square part of the site on Tuesday, divers using a suction device pulled up the latest items in mud.

Volunteer Karen Paradiso was sorting through it when Meide jokingly told her that she “might make a great discovery.”

“Here she is holding up this coin, and she said ‘I don’t think it’s a quarter,’ ” Meide said. “It’s pretty neat.”

Neater still was what volunteer Kyle Lent came across later — two pewter buttons, one with the number 74 at its center. Now researchers will clean the buttons, the coin and two other coins concreted together to see if there are dates or other information on them. The search also is on for the names of those lost ships to see if they can tie in a cargo manifest with the artifacts found so far.

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Roman-era shipwreck reveals ancient medical secrets….



A first-aid kit found on a 2,000-year-old shipwreck has provided a remarkable insight into the medicines concocted by ancient physicians to cure sailors of dysentery and other ailments.

A wooden chest discovered on board the vessel contained pills made of ground-up vegetables, herbs and plants such as celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa and chestnuts – all ingredients referred to in classical medical texts.

The tablets, which were so well sealed that they miraculously survived being under water for more than two millennia, also contain extracts of parsley, nasturtium, radish, yarrow and hibiscus.

They were found in 136 tin-lined wooden vials on a 50ft-long trading ship which was wrecked around 130 BC off the coast of Tuscany. Scientists believe they would have been used to treat gastrointestinal complaints suffered by sailors such as dysentery and diarrhoea.

“It’s a spectacular find. They were very well sealed,” Dr Alain Touwaide, from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington DC, told The Sunday Telegraph. “The plants and vegetables were probably crushed with a mortar and pestle – we could still see the fibres in the tablets. They also contained clay, which even today is used to treat gastrointestinal problems.”

The pills are the oldest known archaeological remains of ancient pharmaceuticals. They would have been taken with a mouthful of wine or water, or may have been dissolved and smeared on the skin to treat inflammation and cuts.

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