The Endurance and its crew became stuck among the ice floes of the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean in 1914. (Library of Congress)
If the wreck of the Endurance, the ship abandoned nearly 100 years ago by Ernest Shackleton and his crew in one of history's greatest sagas of polar exploration, were to be found today beneath the icy waters of Antarctica, it might be in surprisingly pristine condition. The ship is one of several wooden vessels presumed to be lying untouched on the Southern Ocean's floor.
"Untouched" and "wooden" are words rarely used to describe the same shipwreck -- sea worms and other creatures usually bore into the wood with such vigor that by the time archaeologists discover the remnants, the ship's skeleton has often completely disintegrated. But now, researchers from the Royal Society in London have discovered that there are virtually no wood-threatening organisms in Antarctic waters.
Fishermen in the central province of Quang Ngai have found another old sunken boat near the shore, the third old shipwreck spotted in the waters recently and only 100 meters from the second one found last September.
Though it was near midnight on Thursday, around 30 fishing boats had rushed over for a treasure hunt upon hearing of the discovery, which happened around 100 meters off Chau Thuan Bien Village of Binh Son District, and around 1.5 meters under water.
They were jostling around above the boat’s location, around 100 meters to the west of one that was salvaged last July, when more than 4,000 intact antiques were recovered and some were believed to come from the 13th century.
Boats also dredged the sea bed around the area in hopes it would stir up some antiques.
Many people used axes and crowbars to take the antiques quickly, only to break many pottery plates and bowls.
Nguyen Van Thinh, a more gentle hunter, said: “There are many antiques in the boat, but people fought so much for them, smashing them… What a waste!”
By Dan Vergano
An international archaeology team on Wednesday reported the discovery of a "stunning" stucco wall sculpture, its colors intact, unearthed in Guatemala beneath a Maya pyramid.
Guatemalan antiquity officials announced the discovery of the stucco frieze, 30 feet long and 6 feet tall, found on the inside of a pyramid at the Maya city site of Holmul.
"It is one of the most fabulous things I have ever seen," says archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli of the Holmul Archaeological Project. "The preservation is wonderful because it was very carefully packed with dirt before they started building over it."
Submitted by Gillian Finklea
Sarasota, Florida -- State and county staff will host a public input session 3-5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15 at Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota on the proposed Florida's Statewide Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan. The plan has been developed by the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources.
Participants will discuss how the plan can guide efforts to work together to preserve Florida's history and historical, archaeological, and cultural resources. Full color copies and an executive summary will be available. "We are pleased to partner with the State Division of Historical Resources to offer the community the opportunity to review this important plan," said Lorrie Muldowney, manager, Sarasota County Historical Resources. "Sarasota County is a virtual treasure trove of historical sites so we are encouraging the community to share their priorities about protecting our irreplaceable cultural resources."
The Mission of the Florida Division of Historical Resources is to inspire a love of history through preservation and education. Departments in the Division of Historical Resources include the Bureau of Historic Preservation which conducts programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving and interpreting the historic and folklife resources of the state. The Bureau also manages one of the largest state supported grants-in-aid programs in the country, providing funds to help preserve and maintain the state's historic buildings and archaeological sites.
The Bureau of Archaeological Research is responsible for the state's archaeology program. The bureau's archaeologists carry out archaeological surveys and excavations throughout the state, mostly on state-owned lands. They maintain records on historical resources that have been recorded, and assist consultants and planners in protecting sites. The state's underwater archaeology program includes not only historic shipwreck sites but also pre-Columbian sites in underwater contexts.
For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000, or visit www.scgov.net.
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By Robert Nolin, Sun Sentinel
Veiled in myth, it's said to be forged of Incan gold by Peru's Spanish overlords nearly 400 years ago: a life-size statue of the Madonna and Christ child.
And the fabled Golden Madonna lies just off the Palm Beach County coast, at the site of a Spanish shipwreck from 1659.
That's what Robert Bouchlas, treasure hunter and leader of a West Palm Beach church, believes.
But experts strongly doubt the solid gold statue is real. And Bouchlas' federal claim for salvage rights to the wreck has drawn attention from Florida and Spanish officials.
"Does the Golden Madonna exist? It's a story which has circulated for some period of time," said Terry Armstrong, a treasure hunter from Merritt Island who publishes books on shipwrecks. "I don't put any credence into it whatsoever."
Bouchlas, 82, declined to discuss the statue upon the advice of lawyers. But he authorized longtime associate Anne Mary Vesey to speak about his "quest for the impossible dream."
"He's not really after money, he's really after this religious relic," Vesey said. "His plans are to place it in the Vatican."
Treasure hunters familiar with the legend can't pinpoint its origin. But according to Bouchlas, the Golden Madonna was created in 1655 when Spain's King Phillip IV ordered an unknown Peruvian artist to cast a life-size gold statue of the Madonna and child, each with double crowns encrusted with gems.
The king ordered it shipped home via a Spanish treasure armada. It was supposedly secured in an 8-foot locked iron box, crown jewels wrapped in lambswool.
"No one is to know of the gold casting or the cargo but those appointed by my hand," Bouchlas quoted from a "secret order" of Phillip IV. "Let the imbeciles who cast the statue be destroyed forever."
Maya hieroglyphs on Stela 44, a monument at the El Peru-Waka archaeological site in Guatemala, refer to a Maya Snake queen known as Lady Ikoom. The queen is thought to have played a role in a multigenerational story of power shifts in the Maya world.
A stone slab dated 564 A.D., which tells a story of a struggle between Royalty in the Mayan Empire has been discovered. It reveals the turmoil of an ancient power struggle lasting for seven years.
Archaeologists are calling it a “dark period.” The slab was found beneath the main temple of El Peru-Waka’, an ancient Maya city in northern Guatemala. The hieroglyphics tell the story of a princess whose family survived a struggle between two royal dynasties. The slab reveals that the battles were often extremely bloody.
David Freidel, PhD, a professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), said “great rulers took pleasure in describing adversity as a prelude to ultimate success.” In this case, Lady Ikoom, known as the Snake queen, “prevailed in the end.”
The slab also revealed the names of two rulers who were previously unknown.
The kingdom of the Mayans flourished for nearly 600 years, and then they seem to have disappeared around 900 A.D. Among the Mayans many accomplishments was the construction of the massive city of Tikal, developing a hieroglyphic writing system, and a calendar, which famously ended in 2012. Very little of their writings remain, because they were mostly on paper instead of stone.
Iron fencing seals off a shipwreck site off Vietnam’s central coast for excavation. Photos by Hien Cu
A shipwreck discovered last September off the coast of central Vietnam is the oldest, least damaged ever found in the country, and possibly the “most special one” of its kind in Asia, archaeologists say.
While they are intrigued by the antique artifacts found on the boat, they add that the ship itself is as valuable as all the items found in it.
The ship is relatively intact and has some rare materials and a unique structure compared to five other ancient boats found in Vietnam.
At a press briefing held June 30, it was announced that the ship, discovered off Quang Ngai Province, has been identified as a three-story merchandise sailing vessel 700 years old, 20.5 meters long and 5.6 meters at its widest part, and built with 12 bulkheads for 13 compartments.
This was determined after salvage operations conducted between June 4 and 23.
It appears that there had been a fire accident on the ship. However, despite being under water for a long time, one-third of the boat’s height is still intact.
The bottom of the ship, still buried under the seabed, is 80 percent intact while its rudders are in almost pristine condition.
Mystery: Archeologists have uncovered a 100-year-old watch in a tomb believed to have been undisturbed for 400 years
By CHER THORNHILL
CHINA - Archaeologists are stumped after finding a 100-year-old Swiss watch in an ancient tomb that was sealed more than 400 years ago.
They believed they were the first to visit the Ming dynasty grave in Shangsi, southern China, since its occupant's funeral.
But inside they uncovered a miniature watch in the shape of a ring marked 'Swiss' that is thought to be just a century old.
The mysterious timepiece was encrusted in mud and rock and had stopped at 10:06 am.
Watches were not around at the time of the Ming Dynasty and Switzerland did not even exist as a country, an expert pointed out.
The archaeologists were filming a documentary with two journalists when they made the puzzling discovery.
'When we tried to remove the soil wrapped around the coffin, suddenly a piece of rock dropped off and hit the ground with metallic sound,' said Jiang Yanyu, former curator of the Guangxi Museum.
'We picked up the object, and found it was a ring.
'After removing the covering soil and examining it further, we were shocked to see it was a watch,' he added.
The Ming Dynasty - or the Empire of the Great Ming - was the was ruling dynasty in China from 1368 to 1644.
Courtesy; Mail Online
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By Tommy Vawter
COLOMBIA – The Government of Colombia today passed Senate bill No. 125 of 2011 - which will regulate Colombia’s Underwater Cultural Heritage. The bill states that contracts can now be made with marine exploration companies to search for and salvage shipwrecks in Colombian waters, but also that they can keep as pay up to 50 percent of what they find in what the law describes as “criterion of repetition”. In other words, all items that are basically one of kind items that are considered historically significant will be retained by the Colombian government for public display in museums. Hundreds of thousands of Silver reale and Gold doubloon coins and Gold and Silver bullion as well as other common artifacts will be split between the government and the treasure hunters.
As explained by the Colombian Minister of Culture, Mariana Garces. The rationale for the project by the Minister of Culture is that Colombia has neither the technology nor the resources to do these kinds of explorations that are highly expensive. To Garcés, this law will rescue the riches submerged and leverage them for the benefit of all Colombians and citizens of the world that will be able to see them in marine or naval museums. "The spirit of this bill was to create mechanisms to access some heritage objects that would otherwise be unattainable.
On June 8, 1708, in the heat of battle, the British Navy hunted down the Spanish galleon San Jose and sank her. The San Jose lies at 230 to 250 meters deep, well beyond conventional SCUBA, and 10 nautical miles from the port of Cartagena. She is known as the richest shipwreck in history and her registered cargo alone is estimated to be worth 10 Billion dollars in today’s money.
According to some researchers in the treasure hunting community, there are approximately 1,100 ships that were sunk or wrecked between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the territorial waters of what is now Colombia. However, some academic historians that claim these numbers are closer to only 200 shipwrecks.
CAMPECHE, MEXICO - Chactún Dubbed as "Red Rock" or "Piedra Grande", this monumental area is located north of the Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul, and had its peak between 600 and 900 AD. The site "is definitely one of the largest sites in the Central Lowlands, comparable in extent and magnitude of its buildings with Becan and El Palmar" said Ivan Sprajc, the archaeologists who leads a team of national and international experts.
Located in the southeast of Campeche, Chactún is one of the largest sites registered in the Central Lowlands of this ancient civilization. Discovered a few weeks ago, it is believed that the city was the leading center of a vast region a thousand 400 years, between 600 and 900 AD, according to the researcher who heads the expedition supported by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), indicating that this is inferred by the extent of the site, more than 22 hectares, and the amount of monuments, at least a dozen of them with inscriptions.
The exploration initiative, with the approval of the INAH Archaeology Council, is funded by the National Geographic Society, and Austrian companies and Slovenia Villas Ars longa. Along the centuries, Chactún remained hidden in the jungle of northern Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul. According to Sprajc, is part of an area over 3,000 square kilometers, located between the Rio Bec and Chenes region, an area that has remained as "a total blank on the archaeological map of the Maya area.
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