Monday, April 04, 2005


Symposium will probe wreck findings


The Daily News
By Patricia Smith
April 03, 2005

In the early 1700s, the French were using long iron bolts to fasten the framing components of ships.
The English and the Dutch generally were not.

And there was a fastening pattern of wooden dowels and iron spikes common in French shipbuilding that was not often found in other countries, said Dave Moore, nautical archaeologist with the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

Moore has been studying these types of construction techniques in pieces of hull structure recovered from a shipwreck site in Beaufort Inlet believed to be that of the Queen Anne's Revenge, the pirate Blackbeard's flagship.

"It's leaning more toward the direction of a French-built structure versus an English or Dutch-built one," Moore said.
But then, Moore said, 18th century shipbuilders sometimes copied other countries' designs, too.

The origin of the ship is an important element in the unfolding story of the vessel, which ran aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718.

Historical records show that Blackbeard captured the French slave ship La Concorde in 1717 and renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge. But documents recently discovered in Paris indicate the pirate may have traded that boat for a similar one, captained by an Englishman, Moore said.

"We're still pretty certain that we're dealing with the Queen Anne's Revenge, but we're no longer certain of where the ship came from," he said.

It's one section of a great big puzzle archaeologists, historians, scientists and others associated with the state's Queen Anne's Revenge Project are trying to solve as they research artifacts retrieved from the shipwreck site.

They will come together to discuss what they've found at a symposium this week in Greenville.

"We wanted to have a chance to present the findings thus far to the professional and archaeological community," said Richard Lawrence, head of the state's Underwater Archaeology Unit.

The project is wrapping up an interim report on the artifacts brought up during 1997 and 1998 diving expeditions.
"The input will be useful in trying to come up with courses of future research," Lawrence said.

Having recently received a $145,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation to retrieve more artifacts, the QAR Project is developing a strategy for future excavations, said Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

The site continues to be threatened by hurricanes and other storms that seem to slowly remove the sand and leave the pieces uncovered and vulnerable to the sea, Wilde-Ramsing said.

So the project organizers are planning nearly a month-long diving expedition in May to salvage artifacts from several different areas of the site, instead of just one spot as in the past, Wilde-Ramsing said.

"Then in case it gets hit really hard, we've at least got a good strong collection," he said.

The symposium will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with a reception and open house at the East Carolina University archaeology laboratory. At 7 p.m., the symposium will move to ECU's main campus where Historian Lindley Butler will speak on shipping and piracy in North Carolina during the proprietary period.

Friday sessions will begin at 8:45 a.m. and continue all day, featuring archaeologists, scientists and others familiar with Queen Anne's Revenge research.

A panel discussion at 3 p.m. will feature several professionals recognized for their involvement in archaeology.

The symposium is open to the public. However, space at the reception will be limited.


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