VIDEO: 18th Century Ship Unearthed at 9/11 Site in Manhattan

By MarEx 2011-09-01 10:54:45

Archaeologists have excavated an interesting find at the 9/11 Ground Zero site: a 32-foot long 18th century ship hull, as well as a ship’s bow, stern, and anchor. 

The unexpected relic hidden under the future parking garage for the new World Trade Center came as a shock to workers and was nearly destroyed during routine work at the site last month.  Luckily, archaeologists were already on-site of the 9/11 wreckage and noticed curved timbers that a back hoe retrieved from the earth.

Molly McDonald, an AKRF archaeologist contracted to document artifacts at Ground Zero, said that she quickly noticed the rib of the a vessel and continued to clear it away by hand, exposing the hull over the course of a few days in July.  Days later, an anchor was discovered just yards from the first discovery, though unsure of its relation to the remains of the ship. 

While a seemingly shocking discovery, another archaeologist for the AKRF, Elizabeth Meade, told National Geographic that they are standing by the theory that the relic ship was once a merchant vessel of the Hudson River and would have traveled up and down the Hudson transporting cargo and people from Manhattan to the north, and possibly even as south as the Caribbean.  While lower Manhattan was being further constructed, the ship was most likely utilized as a filler material to extend Manhattan into the Hudson River, a practice not unusual for the time period.

Despite the reports from the AKRF-contracted archaeologists, others have suggested that the vessel may have served as a British troop carrier that was intentionally sunk during the Revolutionary War.

Timber samples will be sent to a lab for dendrochronology testing, a science using tree rings to determine dates and chronological order, to help the archaeologists get a better sense of exactly what kind of vessel has been found.  Archaeologists are currently undergoing research to record as much data as possible to the salvaged parts of the ship before the wood suffers considerable deterioration due to exposure to oxygen. 

Watch the video below to learn more about the piece of New York’s past, brought to light through tragedy.