Crusader shipwreck tells a golden knights’ tale

From Crusader Shipwreck Tells a Golden Knights’ Tale.

In the 13th century A.D., the city of Acre on Israel’s northern coast was a key stronghold for embattled European Crusaders defending Christianity in the Holy Land. But in 1291, a vast Egyptian army of some 100,000 soldiers led by the new Mamluk sultan overran the Crusader garrison there and razed the city. Now, marine archaeologists have discovered a long-lost ship that met its watery end in the crescent-shaped bay off the city’s harbor. Carbon dating of the ship, and the cache of gold coins found inside, suggests the wreck dates to the siege of Acre, as Christians made a desperate attempt to flee the city and their knights made their doomed last stand. [continue]

Archeologists are planning to sink this ship dozens of times

From Archeologists are planning to sink this ship dozens of times.

Taking stock of the ship’s cargo and figuring out how it sank has been arduous. “Unlike a lot of underwater excavations, we didn’t start out being able to use digital imaging because we started in 1968-69,” says Susan Katzev, wife of Michael Katzev (who died in 2001). “We did it photograph by photograph, many hours of our photographer diving every morning, every afternoon to record the thing two-dimensionally.”

Using this research, full-scale replicas of the ship were built, starting in 1985. These vessels helped test ideas about ancient maritime activity and about the wreck itself—how its cargo was packed, for instance. (Katzev’s team learned that linen soaked in melted beeswax became too brittle to be an effective cover over the ceramic amphorae, which were used to store wine. Goatskins soaked in water overnight and tied with twine around the neck of the amphorae, though, were more effective: The skins didn’t leak.) But replicating ships and amphorae is expensive, and even with the physical replicas, there were still hypotheses about how the ship sank that proved impossible to test. What the researchers really needed was a virtual, 3D model that could be loaded with cargo and sunk repeatedly in the safe waters of a digital simulation. [continue]

Mary Rose sunk by French cannonball

From The Telegraph: Mary Rose sunk by French cannonball.

For almost 500 years, the sinking of the Mary Rose has been blamed on poor seamanship and the fateful intervention of a freak gust of wind which combined to topple her over.

Now, academics believe the vessel, the pride of Henry VIII’s fleet, was actually sunk by a French warship – a fact covered up by the Tudors to save face.

The Mary Rose, which was raised from the seabed in 1982 and remains on public display in Portsmouth, was sunk in 1545, as Henry watched from the shore, during the Battle of The Solent, a clash between the English fleet and a French invasion force.

Traditionally, historians have blamed the sinking, not on the intervention of the French, but on a recklessly sharp turn and the failure to close gun ports, allowing water to flood in.

To exacerbate the situation, the craft, already overladen with soldiers on the top decks, was also struck by a strong gust of wind.

But new research, carried out by academics at the University of Portsmouth, suggests the ship was [continue].

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Wreck of Titanic sister ship finds new destiny as tourist attraction

From the Guardian: Wreck of Titanic sister ship finds new destiny as tourist attraction.

Nearly 92 years have elapsed since Captain Charles Bartlett, standing in his pyjamas on the bridge of the biggest vessel in the world, the HMHS Britannic, gave the call to abandon ship.

It was 8.35am on November 21 1916. The four-funnel ocean liner, built to be even larger and safer than the “unsinkable” Titanic, her ill-fated sister, was listing fast. Bartlett knew the ship was doomed, but on this eerily calm morning as it sailed to collect troops wounded in the first world war’s Balkans campaign, neither he nor any of his crew could have imagined [continue]

Little object, big find from shipwreck

From ENCToday: Little object, big find from shipwreck.

One of the smallest artifacts recovered during the latest dive expedition at the shipwreck presumed to be Queen Anne’s Revenge is getting big attention.

The circular, dime-sized piece has been resting on the ocean floor for 300 years, but early examination indicates it may be the first coin to come from the site believed to be the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard.

"Just looking at it you can’t see what it is, but from an X-ray of it you can see a little image and what looks like a head (of a coin)," QAR Conservation Field Supervisor Wendy Welsh said of the silver piece.

Welsh said [continue]

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Nine ships found burried under Oslo mud

Well, goodness! Nine ships and two half-ships have been burried under the Oslo mud since 1600 or so. Now they’ve been found, thanks to a highway tunnel project. They’re well preserved, partly because they’ve been in fresh water clay and not on the bottom of the sea somewhere. The biggest ship is 17 metres long.

This is what I get from this article at, which is in Norwegian and doesn’t have photos. I’m hoping that some news service with brains will cover the full story in English soon, preferably with lots of photos.

(Thanks to my local Norwegian expert for help me to understand parts of the dagasvisen article.)

Spanish crew’s lack of English sank the Mary Rose

From The Times: Que? Spanish crew’s lack of English sank the Mary Rose.

For generations, the reason why the Mary Rose sank during a battle with a French invasion force has divided historians.

Now a new theory can be added to the list of suggestions about why the pride of Henry VIII’s navy was lost: two thirds of its crew were foreigners who failed to understand orders.

Forensic science examinations of the 16th-century crew’s skulls have revealed that the majority were not British but southern European, most probably Spanish.

Researchers believe that the vessel’s fate was sealed because of their inability to understand their officers’ orders when it began taking on water in the Solent, off Portsmouth, in 1545. [continue]

Maritime ‘treasure trove’ raised

From the BBC: Maritime ‘treasure trove’ raised.

A treasure trove of artefacts is being recovered from what experts describe as one of the most important maritime discoveries since the Mary Rose.

The late 16th Century shipwreck hails from a pivotal point in England’s military history.

The raised haul includes a 2m-long (7ft) cannon, which will give archaeologists an insight into Elizabeth I’s naval might. […]

Dr Mensun Bound, excavation leader and marine archaeologist from Oxford University, said: "This boat is really grade A in terms of archaeology – it is hard to find anything that really compares with it." [continue]

‘Super-scope’ shines on Mary Rose

From the BBC: ‘Super-scope’ shines on Mary Rose.

The research is taking place at the Diamond synchrotron, a beam-generating machine that covers the area of five football pitches.

Scientists are using the facility in a bid to fine-tune the conservation of the historic vessel’s timbers.

The Mary Rose, pride of Henry VIII’s English fleet, sank in 1545 and lay on the sea bed until being raised in 1982.

The work carried out at Diamond will help conservators understand more about the sulphur compounds buried deep within the ship’s timbers.

Researchers aim to find out how stable they are, as these can be converted to sulphuric acid when oxygen is present – threatening preservation efforts. [continue]

Graveyard of the Pacific

From Graveyard of the Pacific:

The captain strained his eyes into the darkness, but no lights were in sight. White water crashed over the deck. The ship listed, its cargo shifted, and the boat grazed rock on its port side. Waves pushed the vessel further upon the jagged outcropping with a snap of splintering wood as the hull was pierced. The alarm bell rang. The ship was taking on water and nothing could be done. Sailors rushed to life boats adn made ready for a night on the rough seas, hoping for rescue or to reach the shore before they too were taken by the storm…

If you’ve ever longed for a map showing just where the shipwrecks around Vancouver Island are located, this is the site for you. It includes that map, stories behind ten shipwrecks, a page on hazards, and one on saving the wrecks. There’s even a Wrecks Game, in which

YOU make the decisions that determine whether your ship will hit the breakers, losing passengers and cargo to the icy ocean waters of Vancouver Island, or will sail ahead to a safe harbour … and a future of more risk-taking voyages through the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Just the thing to click through as you sip your coffee.