July 15, 2010

Ancient Ship Discovered At 9/11 Site

Archeologists have been over the discovery a 32-foot-long ship hull at the World Trade Center site that was apparently used in the 18th century as part of the fill that extended lower Manhattan into the Hudson River.

Archaeologist Molly McDonald says that it is believed the artifact can be retrieved by the end of the day on Thursday.

McDonald said she hopes to at least salvage some timbers.  It is currently unclear if any large portions could be lifted intact.

"We're mostly clearing it by hand because it's kind of fragile," she told The Associated Press (AP), but construction equipment could be used later in the process.

McDonald and archeologist A. Michael Pappalardo were at the September 11, 2001 site, where the discovery made Tuesday morning.

"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, which is a company that is contracted to document artifacts discovered at the site.  They said that the find is significant, but more research was needed in order 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. Dendrochronology is the science that uses tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.

McDonald said that a 100-pound anchor was discovered a few yards from the ship hull on Wednesday, but they are not sure if it belongs to the ship.  It is 3 to 4 feet across.

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

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

Image Courtesy Jud McCranie - Wikipedia