In 1845, the English explorer Sir John Franklin set off with two ships for the Arctic, hoping to find the Northwest Passage, a route through northern Canada that would allow ships to sail straight from the North Atlantic to the Pacific. Both ships and their crews disappeared somewhere along the journey, their fates unknown for more than a hundred years. 

Last year, the Canadian parks agency located the remains of one of those ships, the HMS Erebus. This summer, the Parks Canada team was able to dive into the wreck, excavating 39 new Franklin Expedition artifacts from the kelp-filled ship approximately 35 feet under the surface of Wilmot and Crampton Bay

A sailor's boot discovered in the wreckage

Artifacts recovered from the almost 100-foot-long wreck include a boot belonging to one of the 129 men who crewed the expedition, a portion of the ship’s wheel, a sword hilt, and tools. 

A portion of the ship's wheel, the largest item recovered so far

The HMS Terror, Franklin’s other ship, has yet to be found. "This shipwreck is proving to be very rich in artifacts," Adrian Schimnowski of the Arctic Research Foundation, a nonprofit partner in the search, told the CBC.  "It will have many clues that will lead to the demise and what happened to the crewmembers."

[h/t: Archaeology]

All images courtesy Parks Canada