Thanks to Archaeology Magazine’s online news feed…
Some further details on the 18th century ship unearthed at the World Trade Center site have been unearthed. After the preserved wooden skeleton of the ship was discovered back in July, archaeologists have been working to figure out what sort of ship it was, its age, and other such details.
It remains unclear just how the ship came to rest under the World Trade Center, though it is important to note that the site was, 200+ years ago, part of the Hudson River. Whether the ship was intentionally or accidentally used as part of landfill to build up Manhattan Island, we might not be able to determine. The scientists are now saying, however, that the ship was a “Hudson River sloop,” traveling up and down the river, or perhaps up and down the East Coast, carrying such goods as sugar, rum, molasses, and salt. Seeds, nuts, and fruit pits have been found in the ship’s remains, though scientists are still considering whether these represent the goods being carried, or just the crew’s lunch.
The ship was originally roughly 60-70 feet long, the length of an extra-long NYC bus, the article explains, though only 32 feet remain today. As is the case with many other older ships found in this manner, underground or in bogs or the like, it was the waterlogged, anaerobic environment which preserved the ship, preventing microbes from breaking it down, as they had no access to air. Now uncovered, the ship must be kept soaked, to prevent it from decaying, so they have apparently placed it in a tank of purified water. It was not the only thing from the late 18th and early 19th centuries to be found in the course of cleaning up the Ground Zero site: china dishes, many many shoes, stemmed glasses, and bottles were found too, as well as a coin, found inserted into the ship’s structure, a half-penny from the reign of George II (1727-1760).
Today’s article finishes with a brief summary of how the ship was originally found, for those who haven’t heard about it until now (all too often, I feel, the news assumes you’ve been keeping up with it, and only tells you the newest part of the story, so this is a welcome addition).
Meanwhile, a brief article about Vietnam’s World Heritage Sites being under threat from wear and tear of the great numbers of tourists visiting, and lack of funds to repair or maintain the sites.
This is, of course, nothing new. World Heritage Sites and other historic sites the world over, especially in Southeast Asia, suffer from the damage done by millions of hands and feet, by the moisture in our breath, and by the lighting used to make the sites visible and accessible. A friend wrote her MA thesis on this subject, and I am sure it is a much-discussed topic, a serious problem with no obvious answer.
I just hope I get to see some of these sites in Vietnam before they are gone. Let me rephrase that. I hope that the funding can somehow be obtained, from within the country, or overseas, from governments or non-profits, to preserve and maintain these sites already acknowledged as being of importance to the entire world.