300-Year-Old Ship Surfaces in Old Town Alexandria

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While digging up the site of a new hotel, workers in Alexandria, Virginia unearthed a piece of maritime history: the bow of a ship dating back to the mid-to-late 18th century.

According to the Washington Post, the ship was found during the construction of a hotel near the Potomac River waterfront. (This area also recently yielded the foundations of a warehouse built in 1755, as well as several old privies filled with pottery, glass, bones, and shoes.) It’s nearly 50 feet long and still contains part of the ship's original hull’s keel, frame, stern, and flooring.

Archaeologists think the vessel once carried heavy cargo or served as a military ship. Colonists might have buried it to fill in a cove and sand flats at Port Lumley, an area where the Potomac’s waters extend towards the shore. It was scuttled sometime between 1775 and 1798, the paper notes.

The ship was a surprise to archaeologists because there are no known historical records of its existence. It’s also remarkably well preserved, thanks to the fact that it wasn’t touched by oxygen after it was buried.

“It’s very rare. This almost never happens,” Dan Baicy, an archaeologist overseeing the construction site, told the Post. “In 15 years that I’ve done this work, I’ve never run into this kind of preservation in an urban environment where there’s so much disturbance.”

Naval archaeologists have also examined the ship and currently are in the process of removing it from the site. They’ll store it in tanks or a natural body of water until conservationists at a preservation lab can take a good look at it. Someday, it might go on display—although project officials say that would require special funding. To learn more about the find, watch the video above.

All images courtesy of YouTube 

[h/t Washington Post, GeoBeats News]

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