Thursday, April 28, 2005


Artifacts are from shipwreck, archaeologists say


Delaware online
By Molly Murray
April 26, 2005

Divers are finding thousands of pieces of pottery,
glass and even small military miniatures made of lead.

The hundreds of fragments of pottery, glass and bricks pumped onto the beach at Lewes last fall are from a colonial shipwreck just off modern-day Roosevelt Inlet, state historians announced today.

Divers located an 18th-century shipwreck in the shallow waters of Delaware Bay during recent dives, and state officials say it is the oldest sunken ship ever to be found in state waters.

The fragments that landed on the beach during a sand-dredging operation – and those found with the ship – are from Delaware’s early Colonial settlement, dating to about 1750. The beach fragments are just a fraction of the historic treasure that remains on the Delaware Bay floor, said underwater archeologist Lee Cox of Dolan Research, the consultant hired to investigate the offshore site.

Cox said divers yesterday found a cache of millstones – the large, circular stones that would have been used in mills to grind grain and other goods. What they still haven’t found, however, is the outline of the actual ship, he said. They did find timbers from the hull.

Officials also do not know the name of the vessel, the circumstances under which it sank or where it was headed. The mystery, said Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor, “is unfolding daily.”

State archaeologists think the ship probably is a shallow-draft cargo vessel – probably a shallop or sloop – that brought goods from major cities like Philadelphia to smaller outposts.

The offshore dive site is protected under both state and federal laws and is off limits to treasure hunters. But state officials announced today that the half-mile strip of beach at Roosevelt Inlet has been reopened to the public.

State officials closed the beach area in December after beachcombers started finding bits and pieces of ceramics, pottery and glass in an area where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had pumped in sand for a beach renourishment project.


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