Monday, October 4, 2010

Seeking Booty, Archaeologists Dive to Blackbeard's Pirate Ship

Archaeologists seeking ancient pirate booty are heading back to sea off North Carolina's coast -- a continuing effort to recover artifacts from the wreck believed to be Blackbeard's flagship.

The boat, called Queen Anne's Revenge, is believed to have sank in 1718 near Beaufort, N.C. Archaeologists in the state aim to save a dozen cannons -- up to 8 feet long and as much as a ton in weight -- and the ship's 1,800-pound anchors by preventing the process that corrodes iron in saltwater. To do so, they apply skinny aluminum rods to the boat that act as annodes, supplying an electrical charge that inhibits corrosion.

"Visibility on the bottom is about six inches with a dive light and zero without," wrote a team member on the restoration effort's Facebook page Monday afternoon. "Occasional surge shifts you back and forth a few feet. Working on repositioning the 6" suction and preparing to re-expose the grids covered over by last week's weather."

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported that last week's heavy rain and winds kept the team from investigating the wreck. Instead, the chief archaeologist and diving supervisor for the project said he and his colleagues worked on land.

QAR archaeological field director Chris Southerly said the team knew it would lose days due to bad weather. Ocean swells can delay diving, and Hurricanes Igor and Julia already roiled the seas. Water temperatures earlier in October trend towards 79 degrees -- more appealing than the 10-degree-cooler temperatures of late October.

“It’s imperative that we stop the damaging effects of salt water on these treasures,” Southerly said of the underwater corrosion-prevention process. “This is a good alternative to help stabilize them when in-laboratory space is not available.”

The last full-scale excavation and recovery of artifacts occurred in 2008.

The Daily News reported last week that the six-week dive expedition at the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site had begun; its progress is documented via the Facebook page Blackbeard’s-Queen Anne’s Revenge.

The 2010 expedition will continue through late October. While small dives on the wreck, such as a three-day dive in May, have allowed researchers to monitor and conduct limited work on site, this expedition marks the first serious archaeology excavation in two years.

Read more interesting topic about archaeology excavations.

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