Thursday, July 12, 2007

 

Archaeological students check out wreckage site at Cape Alava

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Peninsula Daily News
By Paige Dickerson
July 12, 2007


CAPE ALAVA - Five students from Central Washington University in Ellensburg are getting their feet wet in the field of archaeology.

Literally wet, in fact.

A group of five students - four from CWU and one who joined the group independently - are being led by Faith Haney, a master's of science candidate in resource management, in a project to locate, chart and film the wreckage of the Austria at Cape Alava.

Examining the wreckage off the Pacific Coast near the Ozette Indian Reservation will involve group members - who are examining the ship parts today through Tuesday - wading through the low tide at the cape.

The Austria, built in Bath, Maine in 1870, wrecked at Cape Alava on Jan. 29, 1887.

Preliminary surveys have not located the hull, but the main anchor, piles of chain, life-boat davits and other parts have been spotted.

"We were really happy with the preliminary survey," Haney said.

"For a wooden artifact that is covered for part of the day in water, I think that we are doing pretty well.

"I am hopeful that we will find part of the hull."

The students - who are camping in tents at the reservation - will check out the ship parts that have already been found, film them and use global positioning systems to create definitive maps of the area.

Haney plans to follow-up on rumors about planking from the hull having been spotted.

Bob Steelquist, education, public relations, outreach education and outreach coordinator for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Simon Geerlofs, an independent archaeologist and specialist in marine affairs, will teach the class with Haney.

Thesis topic
Haney found out about the project while she was wandering around Port Angeles thinking about a subject for her thesis.

When she visited the sanctuary headquarters, she learned about the shipwreck - an area of study that interested her.

"It was kind of serendipitous," she said.

"I knew I wanted to do something with ships, and when I talked to them, they said they needed someone to record this shipwreck."

She let them know that she was ready to help with the project.

In addition to charting the locations of the wreckage, the group also will film their methods and research.

The final product will be entered in an archeological film festival.

Each student also will be assigned a specific artifact or feature of the site to research for an individual paper.

That research will then be compiled, along with the maps and photographs, to create an interactive Web site for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

"It is good to get the word out there [through the Web site and the film]," Haney said.

"It helps people know the value of the archeological site, and that it isn't just an interesting object to take home and put on your mantle."

The group will not excavate the shipwreck. They will merely record locations of wreckage.

They also will not dive to find artifacts. Group members will examine the area during low tide when the wreckage is exposed.

During high tide, they will compile data, discuss their findings, plan for the next day, and learn about the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest through lectures.


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