Thanks to my colleague Greg Cooper for letting me know about this great exhibit. The Smithsonian Museum has an amazing online exhibit: On the Water. The exhibit, divided by era and theme, explores physical artifacts, maps, narratives and accounts, as well as songs and stories all connected to man’s relationship with the Ocean. The exhibit, primarily focused on United States history, explores whaling, piracy, travel, and more.
In addition to content and material, the exhibit also provides numerous learning resources for educators, including lesson plans and activities.
Antikythera Mechanism fragment courtesy of Wikimedia
The famous Roman shipwreck at Antikythera may in fact be the resting place of two wrecked vessels. The underwater site was discovered in the early 1900s and became quickly famous when nautical archaeologists discovered a device they termed the Antikythera Mechanism, a sophisticated device used to calculate astronomical positions.
The breadth of the wreck and vast array of artifacts have led researchers to question whether or not there are actually two ships at the site rather than the assumed one.
The site’s preservation is due to its remote and deep location, which protects it from curious scuba divers and would be looters. However, the attention that has been showered on the site has encouraged documentary film makers and reporters to be more… creative in how they have presented the finds and the site itself. As such, researchers are planning to return to the site to better explore it.
“Because the site has been so intruded upon for more than a century it gets really hard to disambiguate what’s myth and what’s fact,” – Brendan Foley
To learn more about the excavation and proposed return to the Antikythera wreck, see the article at Discovery News.
Nautical Archaeologists have recently discovered a Roman era shipwreck off of the coast of Albania. The wreck, which dates to the 1st century BCE was filled with amphorae used to store wine. Archaeologists believe that merchants were transporting the wine from Albania’s vineyards to be sold throughout the Mediterranean.
In spite of its age and relatively shallow depth (50 m below sea level), the wreck is remarkably well preserved and nearly all of the vessel seem to be in tact. Both American and Albanian archaeologists will work together to excavate the findings and are excited about the potential for insight it provides about this period in Roman history.
To read more about the wreck and its findings, see this article on MSNBC.
The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia is currently working to restore and reconstruct the innovative engines of the USS Monitor. The USS Monitor was one of the first ironclad naval vessels in the United States and was constructed to confront new Confederate naval technologies that were being employed to break the Union blockade. Most famously, the USS Monitor clashed with the CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) in the first battle involving ironclad ships in Hampton Roads, Virginia. While officially the battle was a standstill, the Monitor was successful in that it prevented the CSS Virginia from breaching the Union blockade.
Nautical Archaeologists have recently discovered a shipwreck off the coast of Ireland that they believe to have belonged to the ill-fated 1588 expedition to England.
In 1588, the Spanish Armada at 130 strong set sail to England with the intent of deposing Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, the Catholic country of Spain was embroiled is an undeclared ‘war,’ termed the Anglo-Spanish War, with Protestant England.
The ill-fated Armada, considered at the time a legitimate threat to the powerful nation of England, was all but destroyed in a storm off the coast of Ireland. Of the original fleet, fewer than 50 made it back him to Spain with the invasion never having taken place.
The unfriendly waters off the coast of Ireland make discovery and excavation difficult, but this new piece is anticipated to be a source of national pride for the people of England. Read more about the discovery in this article of the Belfast Telegraph.
Underwater archaeologists have uncovered the remains of what they believe are three ships that belonged to the infamous Welsh privateer Captain Henry Morgan.
Morgan was an English privateer (a common euphemism for political pirates) that targeted the Spanish fleet during the 17th century. Henry Morgan was, arguably, the most successful and bloodthirsty of the English pirates operating in the region under the official sanction of the British monarchy.
In 1671, Morgan and his men lay siege to the Spanish Fort Castillo de San Lorenzo in Panama. While ultimately successful, he lost his flag ship and several other vessels in the process.
Archaeologists of the wrecks have uncovered a series of wooden planks, 17th century canons, and the odds and ends one would expect on a sea-faring vessel of the day (but no gold). To read more about the find, check out the video and article at MSNBC.