18th Century ship unearthed at WTC site

July 15, 2010 12:41:02 PM PDT
Workers excavating at the World Trade Center site have unearthed the 32-foot-long hull of a ship likely buried in the 18th century.

The vessel probably was used along with other debris to fill in land to extend lower Manhattan into the Hudson River, archeologists said.

Archeologists Molly McDonald and A. Michael Pappalardo were at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Tuesday morning when workers uncovered the artifacts.

"We noticed curved timbers that a back hoe brought up," McDonald said Wednesday. "We quickly found the rib of a vessel and continued to clear it away and expose the hull over the last two days."

The two archeologists work for AKRF, a firm hired to document artifacts discovered at the site. They called Tuesday's find significant but said more study was needed to determine the age of the ship.

"We're going to send timber samples to a laboratory to do dendrochronology that will help us to get a sense of when the boat was constructed," said McDonald, who added that a boat specialist was going to the site Thursday to take a look at the ship. Dendrochronology is the science that uses tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.

The workers and archeologists also found a 100-pound anchor in the same area on Wednesday, but they're not sure if it belongs to the ship.

The archeologists are racing to record and analyze the vessel before the delicate wood, now exposed to air, begins to deteriorate.

"I kept thinking of how closely it came to being destroyed," Pappalardo said.


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