Archaeologists believe the vessel sank sometime in the 19th century, when ships were as prevalent as “Amazon trucks.”
After two hurricanes hit a beach in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida, local residents began to notice wooden structures jutting out of the sand. Now, archaeologists have announced that they believe the storms have revealed a lost 19th-century shipwreck.
“Any time you find a shipwreck on the beach, it’s truly an amazing occurrence,” said maritime archaeologist Chuck Meide of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, who led the team that examined the wreck. Associated Press. “There is this mystery, you know. It’s not there one day, and it’s there the next day, so it really captures the imagination.”
As the Associated Press explains, bathers first noticed the wooden structure around Thanksgiving weekend. It appeared to be between 80 and 100 feet long and around 25 feet wide and had apparently been revealed after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole eroded the sand on the beach.
At first, no one was sure what to do with the structure. The New York Times reports that people hypothesized that it could be anything from an old pier to spectator seats from when NASCAR held races on the beach.
But after Meide and his team of archaeologists investigated the group of wood, they determined that it was a shipwreck.
“I can definitely tell you it’s a wreck,” Meide said. nbc news“We are finding frames, or ribs, of the vessel, we are finding steel planks, which are the interior planks…in the bottom of the cargo hold.”
He added: “It is more likely that it dates from the 19th century than from any other century because there are so many more ships sailing in that century.”
Another archaeologist at the site, Christopher McCarron, compared 19th century shipping to Amazon. He said Fox 35 Orlando“Imagine so many Amazon trucks that you see on the roads today, this was the equivalent in the 19th century.”
But archaeologists aren’t sure what the ship was carrying when it sank.
“If it came from the Caribbean it could have been fruit. It could have been wood,” Meide said. WESH 2. “If it came from the Gulf of Mexico, it could have been manufactured goods.”
Without artifacts, archaeologists can only guess where the ship was built, what the ship was carrying, and where it was headed.
“Sometimes you can make the connection between what was being shipped and what was being built at the time,” McCarron told Fox 35 Orlando. “It is too early to say unfortunately. We are having a fight to get ahead.”
He added: “That’s where those diagnostic artifact identifiers come in handy, to help us narrow down potential areas. Unfortunately for this particular wreck, we may not have that information yet.”
Despite the questions that remain about the wreck, the discovery has thrilled locals living near Daytona Beach Shores.
“If anything good could come out of those two horrible hurricanes we had, I’ll take it, and it’s history,” Dean Coleman told WESH 2.
Seconded by Barry Chantler, he said: “I love history and something that hasn’t been discovered is almost like finding history for the first time, and I think it is. It’s exciting when you go to the beach and unexpectedly this shipwreck appears, this relic of the past.”
For now, the Associated Press reports that there are no plans to fully excavate the wreck from the sand. That would not only cost millions of dollars, but would likely damage the wreck. Instead, archaeologists will measure it, draw it, and take wood samples for further study.
Regardless, Meide explained that wet sand is the best place for the wreck as it will keep it in one place and protect it from the weather.
“We will let Mother Nature bury the wreck,” he told the Associated Press. “That will help preserve it. As long as that helmet is in the dark and wet, it will last a long time, hundreds of years more.”
In fact, the sand has already begun to cover the wreck. Soon, it will slide under the beach again, just as it slid under the waves centuries ago.
After reading about the wooden structures in Florida that were revealed to be a 19th century shipwreck, discover the stories of some of the most famous shipwrecks in human history. Or see how archaeologists determined that the wood found in Oregon was actually part of the “beeswax wreck”, which may have inspired Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Goonies’.