Thursday, January 27, 2005


Lewes artifacts may be from 2 sites


By Molly Murray
January 27, 2005

State archaeologists who studied artifacts found late last year on a Lewes beach now think a federal dredging crew may have struck two underwater historical sites on the bottom of Delaware Bay.

In the weeks following a $3.9 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project at Roosevelt Inlet, beachcombers found pieces of glass and pottery on the renourished beach.

The artifacts include green glass, a wide array of pottery and metal toys such as ship models and solders thought to date from 1720 to 1740.

State and federal officials first thought the dredging crews dug up the items from a buried site about 2,000 feet off the beach. But in recent weeks, they have begun to surmise the artifacts are from two sites.

State historic preservation officer Dan Griffith said he thinks part of what lies offshore is a shipwreck such as a shallop that would have been used to deliver smaller loads of cargo to and from shore. The rest may be from a settlement overrun by the ocean.

The origin of the artifacts will likely remain a mystery until a team of divers explores the site, likely next month. State archaeologists have been working to survey the beach by sifting through thousands of cubic yards of sand on the Lewes beach. The next step is to begin preserving the artifacts.

State archaeologists want to take a careful inventory of the pieces to get an idea of how much glass and pottery was disturbed by the dredge. The pieces will be weighed and measured, said Craig Lukezic, a state archaeologist.

Lukezic said archaeologists also will start researching the pieces and may travel to other Colonial settlements, such as St. Mary's County in Maryland or Jamestown in Virginia.

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