A ship discovered by crews excavating the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan dates back to the 1780’s according to experts at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab)– the lab contracted to conserve the vessel’s remains. A 100-pound iron anchor was also found a few yards from the hull, possibly from the old ship. According to the MAC Lab, an archaeological trove of this significance has not been found since 1982, when an 18th-century cargo ship was uncovered at 175 Water Street.
"Our conservation lab was designed with the treatment of shipwrecks in mind,” added Patricia Samford, Director of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. “Our conservators have a great deal of experience with recovering and conserving waterlogged timbers, such as those found at the World Trade Center site. We are much honored to be working on this internationally spotlighted project."
The vessel's age was determined through a process called dendrochronology - the science of using tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.
The 32-foot long section of the merchant ship was found under ground, not under water. The ship was presumably used around 1810 as landfill to extend the shores of lower Manhattan.
Historian, Norman Brower, told archaeologists the ship was originally an oceangoing vessel that might have sailed the Caribbean, as evidenced by 18th-century marine organisms that had bored tiny tunnels in the timber, reports the AP.
Samford, told the Baltimore Sun that this ship is the largest shipwreck project her team has taken on. The process will involve a year of soaking in antifreeze, and then freeze-drying to preserve the wood. The ship was painstakingly removed piece-by-piece, sealed and marked. The ship will eventually be reassembled for study, the Mac Lab notes.