Monday, May 08, 2006


Can you DIG IT?


Delmarva Now!
May 03, 2006

Bill Winkler (Baseball cap) and Jeff Rice
work on a dig on Assateague Island in
March of 1996. State officials have deemed
the month of May "Archaeology Month" in

May is archaeology month and groups throughout the state have big plans to celebrate. The month-long event began with Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signing a proclamation at the Delaware State Visitors Center in Dover. From there, archaeology enthusiasts will hold events across the state sharing the history of Delaware's residents and the times they lived.

Archaeologists study ancient civilizations through their writings, pottery, homes and other remnants. But with a little instruction, almost anyone can be an archaeologist, according to Bill Winkler, owner of Treasure Beach in Ocean View.

Winkler has participated in many digs and can often be found along Delaware beaches with his metal detector searching for artifacts. He not only finds treasures, he helps others identify their finds.

"I try to photograph and document as much as I can," Winkler said. "If there were museums, a lot of people would donate the things they find."

Winkler's interests in archaeology began years ago. He graduated from the University of Hawaii with a bachelor's degree in Biology. He went on to study Deep Sea Biology, Oceanography and other similar subjects. Winkler moved to Florida and had the good fortune to dive with Mel Fisher's group as they explored the 1715 Spanish fleet shipwrecks just off the coast.

Fisher was an undersea explorer who searched for shipwrecks and the bounty they carried. Based out of Florida, Fisher and his family have brought up countless finds that reveal much about ships and the cargo they carried.

"That proved to me we'll never recover all the treasure under the sea," Winkler said of his time in Florida.

He said every time a storm comes along, the area shifts and changes. Sometimes the shifts reveal artifacts and in other cases it hides them further away from the site.

Delaware Technical and Community College has a museum -- Treasures of the Sea -- featuring many artifacts brought up from the ocean bottom by Fisher's team. The display is courtesy of Melvin Joseph, who was a supporter of the dive years ago.

But Winkler said the value of an item is not dependent on it being made of gold or silver. The value lies within its history and what it can teach people of life long ago.

As May unfolds, officials from Delaware's Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, along with history buffs from all walks of life, will hold many events promoting archaeology.

On Thursday, May 4, South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach is hosting a 7 p.m. talk on the Lost Radeau. The Radeau is America's oldest intact warship and rest on the bottom of a lake in New York state. The ship, Land Tortoise, is from 1758 and was lost for two centuries, according to the Web site

In Oak Orchard, there will be a Nanticoke Living Heritage Day on Saturday, May 6 with dancing and hands-on pottery-making demonstrations for children and adults. This event goes from noon until 3 p.m. at the Nanticoke Indian Association.

The following evening, Sunday, May 7, at the Village at Bear Trap Dunes, a group will present a history and archaeology exhibit on farm life. They will have various speakers and display some of the items residents have found locally.

"The Display was just finished and this is a showing in some regards," said Bear Trap spokesperson Christi McHale. She added there will be a person on hand to explain how to preserve things including things like an old quilt.

In Bethany Beach, Daniel R. Griffith, project director with the Lewes Maritime Archaeology Project will come to the South Coastal Library on Thursday evening, May 11, at 7 p.m. for a presentation of his own.

Reach Roxann Moore at (302) 537-1881, ext. 108, or by e-mail at


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