Salvaging Wrecks – Unexpected Treasures

Ships have been sinking since man started sailing them around the world and, as divers are realising daily, there is still a vast amount of treasure lying undiscovered on the ocean floor. Fortunes have been found in gold, jewellery, antique weapons, art and lots of other rare items. Two ships are still being salvaged that prove that other forms of wealth are just as important to our history as these material things.

  1. shutterstock_252133837The Queen Anne’s Revenge

Originally a French slavery vessel, this ship was captured by the infamous British pirate, Blackbeard, in 1717 and he renamed it The Queen Anne’s Revenge. This started a period in which European ships which were sailing in the Caribbean were plagued by Blackbeard and his crew. His victims were rescued briefly from his constant plunder, when the ship ran aground in 1718. Blackbeard and his crew abandoned it, taking most of the treasure with them.

shutterstock_35601007In 1996, it was rediscovered underwater near Beaufort Inlet, located in North Carolina, and the salvaging of its contents began. The ship has yielded many items which provide insight into the way pirates lived while at sea. The variety of cannons, looted from different ships, and other weapons reveal how the pirates would attack and defend themselves. There was also a more extensive supply of medical items than other vessels discovered from the period had on board. Blackbeard and his crew were known for being in excellent health, which made it easier for them to loot ships where the sailors weren’t in good condition. Divers continue to salvage The Queen Anne’s Revenge, and hope to discover even more that represents that particular period and the life of a pirate.

  1. The Antikythera Wreck

At the beginning of the 20th century, one of the most historically revealing sunken ships was discovered in a cove off the tiny Greek island of Antikythera. Since then the vessel and its contents have been explored and valuable pieces excavated from it. The most notable are the pieces of The Antikythera Mechanism, which is a bronze device which has been slowly remade and shows the technological advancement of the Greeks. The device was found with instructions carved into it and appeared to have been used to monitor the heavenly bodies in our Solar System, including the sun, 5 planets and the moon.  The instructions detail the ways in which it could predict lunar eclipses. The mechanism was also used to monitor the cycle of the Greek games, which inspired the Roman Olympics and eventually our modern one.

In addition to the amazing mechanism, the wreck has yielded lots of fine art and other trade goods that are believed to have been gifts. Bronze statues have been found and reassembled and are believed to be representation of the deities, including the goddess Athena. Future exploration of the wreck will use ‘The Iron Man for Underwater Exploration,’ which is a diving suit which will assist explorers to enter areas that were previously inaccessible.

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