Archaeologist solve mystery of huge object protruding from sand on Florida beach

Originally published at: Archaeologist solve mystery of huge object protruding from sand on Florida beach | Boing Boing


Do they rebury it if they find out the name on the ship’s hull was the Black Pearl?


(respectfully, this was apparent to sailors from the first images)


I suspect this is one of those situations where it’s the difference between everybody being capable of saying “that’s almost certainly a ship of some sort” and being able to say “yup, we’ve looked into it, carefully examined it and we can now say definitively that this is a ship”.

Plus we can say the ship had x, y and z characteristics which probably means such and such.



Exactly. These are maritime archaeologists. They literally spend all day every day thinking about ships and what they look like when wrecked. They obviously could tell from the photos as well what “every sailor” could. But fieldwork is necessary to say it for sure and to record details so the wreck can be identified or at least dated. Because that’s their job.


Exceedingly difficult to remove, the shipwreck will be documented by the archaeologists and then reburied for the ages.

For the ages or until the sand washes away again.


Are we really sure we don’t want to investigate a cargo ship from the 1800s a little further? Seems odd that we’ve got some history staring us in the face and the plan is “Eh, cover it back up.”

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Probably best to leave it alone.


Won’t rising seas and storms exacerbated by climate change that likely uncovered the wreck to begin with just continue to excavate it further via gradual erosion?

Probably one of many thousands of such wrecks. An 80-100 ft vessel may not be that consequential-- particularly if 19th century means “1890s.”


very true. there are 51 listed shipwrecks just here in the Keys!
they don’t call it the Treasure Coast for nuthin’, y’all.


I’d like more information on how it is ‘exceedingly difficult to remove’. Are there no shovels in Florida?
Difficult to remove while preserving archaeological evidence, sure, but no more difficult than other items. I suspect what they mean is ‘nobody wants to pay to study this’.


difficult to excavate and remove before the tide comes back in and covers everything up again!


Can you imagine?

“Ok, the tide is going out, get ready to start over digging these same spots - maybe we’ll get a beam or two uncovered before the next high tide”

No, thank you!

ETA: in my head canon, this is a pirate ship that got repelled from St Augustine and went aground down south :slight_smile:


Foreshore archaeology literally works like that.


Archeologists probably do, but don’t have anyone willing to pay for them to afford to do so – yet. I would bet that right now a bunch of archeologists are delving into shipping news and old ships logs and all the other resources they have to figure out which specific ship it was, who was on it, and how it was lost. If it turns out to be a historically important, or likely to be so, then they’ll apply for grants and permits and plan an actual study. In the meanwhile, its is likely safer in the conditions that have more or less kept it intact than rushing to pull it out now and being unable to preserve it long enough to study. If it turns out to be a garbage scow (no, wait, that would be fascinating) or a vessel of a type that has been thoroughly studied then they haven’t wasted the resources.


Depends if it has its “cargo” intact.

Yupper. I was just having fun with my mental movie of a bunch of archaeologists running around like sandpipers


From the first photos I saw, I felt almost certain it was the hull of a shipwreck, with some planking along one side. The only doubt was down to how long it was with parallel sides, there’s usually more taper at the bow. There’s a similar wreck on the beach near Berrow in Somerset, in the estuary of the River Severn.
She was a Norwegian ship, blown aground back in the 1800’s, the tidal rise and fall there is the second highest in the world, any ship blown in on a high tide is doomed, the beach has such a shallow angle, the tide at low ebb is a mile out.