Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Underwater survey under way for Lewes artifacts


Cape Gazette
By Henry J. Evans Jr.
March 07, 2005

Divers could begin searching for the source of artifacts in waters near the Roosevelt Inlet in Lewes in the next couple of weeks, after crews spent several days this week scanning the bay bottom with remote sensing instruments.

Dolan Research Inc., an underwater archaeological survey company based in Newtown Square, Pa., is conducting bottom surveys of the area using a magnetometer, or metal detector; side-scan sonar; and a sub bottom profiler, a type of sonar that maps the bay bottom.

“This will help us get a good, three-dimensional look at the borrow area and the whole area that was borrowed from and that could be borrowed from,” said Craig Lukezic, a state archaeologist working on the project.

Lukezic said the Dolan research vessels are using instruments to sweep the waters near the inlet in a tight pattern so that as much of the dredge site as possible is covered in the survey.

He said the remote sensing survey data would be used to guide divers to areas of interest as early as next week.

Lukezic said the plan is to send divers to locations where the metal detector has indicated a hit and have them work from there.

Most of the artifacts that have been found in the area, however, have been nonmetallic.

The Army Corps has closed Lewes Beach in the area, and the bay waters in the vicinity of the dredge sites are off-limits to boat traffic.

Meanwhile, Lukezic said work continues in the state’s archaeological lab in Dover in preparation for piecing artifact fragments together into something recognizable.

“It’s the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle, and we’re trying to get some space to lay it all out,” Lukezic said.

He said artifact fragments are being sorted by color, thickness, type of wear they show and other visual attributes.
“We then try to fit together the things that are most similar,” he said.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project that ended in October deposited more than 167,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the bay floor onto the beach.

The dredge apparently hit deposits of material that experts say date to various periods through the 1800s.

Many of the artifacts are bottle and jar fragments that were broken by the dredging process and deposited with the sand.

Lukezic said archaeologists are now also beginning to determine how many bottles of varying types they have.

“That has direct bearing on the site because if we’ve got 20 to 50 case and seltzer bottles, it would not be your normal habitation domestic site,” he said. He said that because there appears to be so much material that is the same, the concept that they’re dealing with a ship’s cargo becomes more creditable.

“But anything we say could be totally outdated as soon as they come back from some diving,” Lukezic said.


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