www.archaeology.ws/archive

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/01/120119-national-popcorn-day-corn-peru-archaeology-food-science/

Ancient Popcorn Found—Made 2,000 Years Earlier Than Thought in Peru

Christine Dell'Amore

for National Geographic News

Published January 19, 2012

 

Just in time for National Popcorn Day, a new study says that people in what's now Peru were eating the snack 2,000 years earlier than thought.

 

Coastal peoples were preparing corn-based foods up to 6,700 years ago, according to analysis of ancient corncobs, husks, tassels, and stalks recently unearthed at the Paredones and Huaca Prieta archaeological sites on Peru's northern coast.

 

Previously, evidence of corn as a food before about 5,000 years ago had mostly come from what are called microfossils—microscopic remains that do not offer information on the cobs' sizes and shapes.

 

But the newfound corn remains revealed a lot, via radiocarbon dating and other tests. For instance, the oldest cobs can be identified as popcorn, said study co-author Dolores Piperno, curator of New World archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and emerita staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

 

The people who lived at Paredones and Huaca Prieta would've cooked corn several ways: Wrapping a cob (in an as yet undetermined material) and resting it on coals, roasting a cob directly over a flame, or cooking a cob in an earthen oven, Piperno said.

 

In this culture, corn was likely a delicacy or a minor supplement to the diet—archaeological evidence shows they did not eat it in large numbers.

 

Corn was first domesticated in Mexico about 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte, according to Piperno, whose research appears this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

A few thousand years later, corn was brought to South America, where farmers bred the plant crop into hundreds of varieties, she added.

 

Indeed, what surprised Piperno most about the new research was the diversity of corn-from cob shapes to kernel colors—discovered in the newfound remains.

 

"Farmers like to experiment," she said, "and grow cool things."

 

http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=116116&CultureCode=en

The fermented cereal beverage of the Sumerians may not have been beer

17 January 2012 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

 

Archaeological finds from cuneiform tablets and remnants of different vessels from over 4,000 years ago show that even around the dawn of civilisation, fermented cereal juice was highly enjoyed by Mesopotamia’s inhabitants. However, besides the two basic ingredients, barley and emmer (a species of wheat) the brew produced in the clay jars of the Sumerians is shrouded in mystery. Despite an abundance of finds and scribal traditions which point to an early love of fermented cereal beverages, reconstructing ancient brewing methods is very difficult, according to the historian of science and cuneiform writing scholar Peter Damerow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. A scholarly paper by Damerow, who passed away at the end of November 2011 in Berlin, carefully examines the beer brewing technologies of the Sumerians. However, the author also expresses great doubts as to whether the popular brew in ancient times was even beer.

 

Although many of the more than 4,000 years old cuneiform texts contain records of deliveries of emmer, barley and malt to breweries, as well as documentation of the activities, there is hardly any information on the details of the production processes, and no recipes to follow. According to Damerow, the administrative texts were most likely written for an audience that was already familiar with the details of brewing. They were not intended for informing the modern-day reader about the processes.

 

Moreover, the methods used for recording this information differ between locations and time periods. Also, the records and calculations are not based on any consistent number system. Instead, the Sumerian bureaucrats used different number systems depending on the nature of the objects to be counted or measured to count or measure.

 

This has cast doubt on the popular theory that Mesopotamian brewers used to crumble flat bread made from barley or emmer into their mash. The so-called “bappir” (Sumerian for “beer bread”) is never counted as bread in the administrative texts, but in measuring units, like coarsely ground barley. Damerow also points out that the high degree of standardisation, which meant that the quantities of raw materials allocated to the brewers by the central administration remained exactly the same over long periods, sometimes even decades, makes it difficult to base any recipes on them.

 

According to Damerow, even the “Hymn of Ninkasi”, one of the most significant sources on the ancient art of brewing, does not provide any reliable information about the constituents and steps of the brewing process. This lyric text from the Old Babylonian period around 1800 B.C. is a mythological poem or song that glorifies the brewing of beer. Despite the elaborate versification, Damerow states that the procedure of brewing is not conclusively described. It merely offers an incomplete record of the individual steps. For instance, there is no clue as to how the germination of the grain was interrupted at the right time. It can only be speculated that the barley was layered and that the germination was stopped by heating and drying the grain as soon as the root embryo had the right size.

 

Furthermore, the content of the hymn does not quite fit the results of the Tall Bazi Experiment. This was a brewing experiment carried out by archaeologists from the Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich together with brewing experts from the Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan at the Technische Universität München, with the intention of reconstructing the ancient brewing processes. Using cold mashing, the archaeologists managed to produce a brew of barley and emmer and adjust the alcohol level by changing the percentage of water; however, in Damerow’s opinion, this result must also be treated with scepticism. Nothing suggests that a production process that worked under the special conditions of Tall Bazi must have worked in the same way at other places in Mesopotamia, since the local conditions varied greatly. In fact, the experiment only demonstrates how modern methods can be used to produce a beer under the same conditions that were prevalent in Tall Bazi.

 

These uncertainties lead to a question, which the author considers “much more fundamental”: to which extent is it at all possible to compare ancient products with modern ones? “Given our limited knowledge about the Sumerian brewing processes, we cannot say for sure whether their end product even contained alcohol”, writes Damerow. There is no way of ascertaining whether the brew was not more similar to the bread drink kvass from Eastern Europe than to German Pilsner, Altbier or wheat beer.

 

Nevertheless, Damerow considers the approach of the scientists in the Tall Bazi Experiment to be a good way of finding the answers to questions about the early history of the art of brewing. “Such interdisciplinary research efforts might well lead to better interpretations of the ‘Hymn of Ninkasi’ than those currently accepted among specialists working on cuneiform literature”, says Damerow.

 

http://www.mpg.de/4987500/sumerian_beer

 

http://www.stonepages.com/news/archives/004698.html

Seafaring in the Aegean: new dates

21 January 2012

 

Seafaring before the Neolithic - circa 7th millennium BCE - is a controversial issue in the Mediterranean. However, evidence from different parts of the Aegean is gradually changing this, revealing the importance of early coastal and island environments. The site of Ouriakos on the island of Lemnos (Greece) tentatively dates to the end of the Pleistocene and possibly the beginning of the Holocene, circa 12,000 BP.

     A team formed by N. Laskaris, A. Sampson and I. Liritzis from the Laboratory of Archaeometry, University of the Aegean, Department of Mediterranean Studies, Rhodes; and F. Mavridis from the Ephorate of Palaeo-anthropology and Speleology of Southern Greece suggested that obsidian sources on the island of Melos in the Cyclades could have been exploited earlier. Studies of material from Franchthi cave in the Argolid indicated Melos as its origin, but obsidian hydration dating was not applied to the artefacts recovered.

     Obsidian, or 'volcanic glass', has been a preferred material for stone tools wherever it is found or traded. It also absorbs water vapour when exposed to air - for instance, when it is shaped into a tool - and absolute or relative dates can be determined for that event by measuring the depth of water penetration. In 10,000 years, the expected hydration depth is about 10 mm from the tool surface.

     Two routes for the obsidian found at Franchthi have been considered: a direct one of around 120 kilometres with islets in between, and another one through Attica including crossings of 15 to 20 kilometres between islands. The presence of obsidian in mainland and island sites indicates that these voyages included successful return journeys.

     Sites in Ikaria, in Sporades, and on Kythnos demonstrate that, during the Mesolithic, a well established system of obsidian exploitation and circulation existed - a phenomenon that has its routes even earlier, as dates from sites in Attica indicate. Furthermore, obsidian artefacts have recently been found in two other Mesolithic sites in Greece, one in the island of Naxos and the other one in the small island of Halki. Exchange systems therefore brought obsidian to the eastern and the north-west Aegean, and even reached coastal inland sites of mainland Greece such as Attica, though not yet found in mainland sites. Possibly through sites in this latter region obsidian was also brought to the Peloponnese.

 

Edited from Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 38, Issue 9, pp. 2475-2479 (2011)

 

http://www.livescience.com/17943-oldest-astrologer-board-zodiac.html

Good Heavens! Oldest-Known Astrologer's Board Discovered

Owen Jarus, LiveScience ContributorDate: 16 January 2012 Time: 03:37 PM ET

 

A research team has discovered what may be the oldest astrologer's board, engraved with zodiac signs and used to determine a person's horoscope.

 

Dating back more than 2,000 years, the board was discovered in Croatia, in a cave overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The surviving portion of the board consists of 30 ivory fragments engraved with signs of the zodiac. Researchers spent years digging them up and putting them back together. Inscribed in a Greco-Roman style, they include images of Cancer, Gemini and Pisces.

 

The board fragments were discovered next to a phallic-shaped stalagmite amid thousands of pieces of ancient Hellenistic (Greek style) drinking vessels.

 

An ancient astrologer, trying to determine a person's horoscope, could have used the board to show the position of the planets, sun and moon at the time the person was born.

 

"What he would show the client would be where each planet is, where the sun is, where the moon is and what are the points on the zodiac that were rising and setting on the horizon at the moment of birth," said Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.

 

"This is probably older than any other known example," Jones said. "It's also older than any of the written-down horoscopes that we have from the Greco-Roman world," he said, adding, "we have a lot of horoscopes that are written down as a kind of document on papyrus or on a wall but none of them as old as this."

 

Jones and StašoForenbaher, a researcher with the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, reported the discovery in the most recent edition of the Journal for the History of Astronomy.

 

In 1999, the team was digging near the entrance of the Croatian cave, a site well known to archaeologists and people at the nearby hamlet of Nakovana who simply called it "Spila," which means "the cave," Forenbaher told LiveScience.

 

But what nobody knew at the time was that the cave had a section that had been sealed off more than 2,000 years ago. Forenbaher's girlfriend (now his wife) burrowed through the debris, discovering a wide low passageway that continued in the dark for nearly 33 feet (10 meters). Forenbaher described going through the passageway as "the unique King Tut experience, coming to a place where nobody has been for a couple of thousand years."

 

Stepping into the cavern "there was a very thin limestone crust on the surface that was cracking under your feet when you went in, which meant that nobody walked there in a very, very, long time," Forenbaher said.

 

The team would later determine that it had been sealed off in the first century B.C., possibly in response to a military campaign waged against the local people by the Romans.

 

When the archaeologists investigated they found the phallic-shaped stalagmite, numerous drinking vessels that had been deposited over hundreds of years, and something else. "In the course of that excavation these very tiny bits and pieces of ivory came up," said Forenbaher, "we didn’t even realize what we had at the time."

 

The team went to work. "What followed was years of putting them together, finding more bits and pieces, and figuring out what they were," Forenbaher said. In the end they found themselves staring at the remains of the oldest-known astrologer's board.

 

How did the board wind up in the cave?

 

Archaeologists are not certain how the board came to the cave or where it was originally made. Astrology originated in Babylon far back in antiquity, with the Babylonians developing their own form of horoscopes around 2,400 years ago.

 

Then around 2,100 years ago, astrology spread to the eastern Mediterranean, becoming popular in Egypt, which at the time was under the control of a dynasty of Greek kings.

 

"It gets modified very much into what we think of as the Greek style of astrology, which is essentially the modern style of astrology," Jones said. "The Greek style is the foundation of astrology that goes through the Middle Ages and into modern Europe, modern India (and) so on."

 

Radiocarbon dating shows that the ivory used to create the zodiac images dates back around 2,200 years ago, shortly before the appearance of this new form of astrology.

 

Researchers are not certain where the board was made although Egypt is a possibility. The ivory itself likely came from an elephant that was killed or otherwise died around that time, they suspect. Being a valuable item, the ivory would have been stored for several decades, or even a century, before it was used to construct the zodiac. These signs would then have been attached to a flat (possibly wooden) surface to create the board, which may have included other elements that didn't survive.

 

At some point it may have been put on a ship heading through the Adriatic Sea, an important route for commerce that the cave overlooks. The people who lived in Croatia at the time were called Illyrians. Although ancient writers tended to have a low opinion of them, archaeological evidence suggests that they interacted with nearby Greek colonies and were very much a part of the Mediterranean world.

 

It's possible that an astrologer from one of the Greek colonies came to the cave to give a prediction. A consultation held in the flickering light of the cavern would have been a powerful experience, although perhaps not very convenient for the astrologer.

 

"It doesn't sound like a very practical place for doing the homework for the horoscope like calculating planetary positions," Jones said.

 

Another possibility is that the Illyrians traded for or stole the astrology board from someone, not fully understanding what it was used for. The board, along with the drinking vessels, would then have been placed as an offering to a deity worshipped in the cave whose identity is unknown.

 

"There is definitely a possibility that this astrologer's board showed up as an offering together with other special things that were either bought or plundered from a passing ship," Forenbaher said. He pointed out that the drinking vessels found in the cave were carefully chosen. They were foreign-made, and only a few examples of cruder amphora storage vessels were found with them.

 

"It almost seems that somebody was bringing out wine there, pouring it and then tossing the amphora away because they [the amphora] were not good enough for the gods, they were not good enough to be deposited in the sanctuary," Forenbaher said.

 

The phallic-shaped stalagmite, which may have grown on the spot naturally, appears to have been a center for these offerings and for rituals performed in the cavern. Forenbaher cautioned that all stalagmites look phallic to some degree and it's difficult to determine what meaning it had to the people in the cave. "It certainly meant something important," he said.

 

"This is a place where things that were valued locally, were deposited to some kind of supernatural power, to some transcendental entity or whatever [it was]."

 

http://aegyptologie.unibas.ch/forschung/projekte/university-of-basel-kings-valley-project/report-2012/

Discovery of a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV 64

January 16, 2012

 

During the season of 2011, three edges of an unknown manmade feature appeared at 1.80m to the north of KV 40, on the 25th of January, the first day of the Egyptian revolution. Due to the situation, it was immediately covered with an iron door.

As this structure is so close to KV 40 and as it was impossible to know whether it was just a short unfinished shaft or a real tomb, we gave it the temporary number 40b. This number is now replaced by the final designation KV 64. The KV numbers should definitely be used exclusively for real tombs or deposits and not for possible cavities and yet unascertained structures.

 

This season, work was resumed on January 8th. With the permission of the Ministry of State of Antiquities we started to work on the unknown structure.

It soon turned out to be a rock-cut tomb of the 18th dynasty, 15th century BCE. In the shaft the upper edge of the door appeared at a depth of about 2.5m. The shaft measures approximately 1.10m by 1.60m. Its fill showed no evidence of being affected by flood water.

In the blocking of the entrance, two stages of use could be observed. Large stones in front and over the entrance belong to a secondary occupation. Of the primary phase dating to the 18th dynasty, some 0.50cm of the plaster seal of the entrance and a Nile silt flower pot with remnants of this plaster remain on the floor of the shaft.

The tomb has a single chamber of approx. 4m (north – south) by 2.4m (east-west). The room was filled with debris to about 0.8m under the ceiling.

On the left (north) side of the chamber, a black wooden coffin lies upon the thick layer of debris. On its sides, large yellow hieroglyphs are painted. Traces of yellow decoration are visible under the dust on its upper side. Next to the feet of the coffin stands a small, wooden stelae (27.5 x 22.5 x 2cm) with very bright colours. The type of stelae and coffin clearly indicate to the 22nd dynasty, 9th century BCE. It is one of the very few burials of this period in Thebes that can be observed with its objects still in their original position.

From the texts on the stelae and on the coffin, it appears that the burial belongs to a lady who was a chantress of Amun, called Nehemes-Bastet. Her father was a priest in Karnak.

The coffin is in good condition and contains the intact, carefully wrapped mummy of the lady, who measured about 1.55m. Conservation work is currently carried out before transportation to a magazine.

 

Pottery and fragments of wood point to the existence of a burial of the 18th dynasty underneath the layer of debris, which has yet to be cleared.

 

http://www.livescience.com/18055-mysterious-winged-structure-ancient-rome.html

Mysterious 'Winged' Structure from Ancient Rome Discovered

Owen Jarus, LiveScience ContributorDate: 22 January 2012 Time: 05:40 PM ET

 

A recently discovered mysterious "winged" structure in England, which in the Roman period may have been used as a temple, presents a puzzle for archaeologists, who say the building has no known parallels.

 

Built around 1,800 years ago, the structure was discovered in Norfolk, in eastern England, just to the south of the ancient town of Venta Icenorum. The structure has two wings radiating out from a rectangular room that in turn leads to a central room.

 

"Generally speaking, [during] the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms," said William Bowden, a professor at the University of Nottingham, who reported the find in the most recent edition of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group.

 

The winged shape of the building appears to be unique in the Roman Empire, with no other example known. "It's very unusual to find a building like this where you have no known parallels for it," Bowden told LiveScience. "What they were trying to achieve by using this design is really very difficult to say."

 

The building appears to have been part of a complex that includes a villa to the north and at least two other structures to the northeast and northwest. An aerial photograph suggests the existence of an oval or polygonal building with an apse located to the east.

 

The foundation of the two wings and the rectangular room was made of a thin layer of rammed clay and chalk. "This suggests that the superstructure of much of the building was quite light, probably timber and clay-lump walls with a thatched roof," writes Bowden. This raises the possibility that the building was not intended to be used long term. [Photos of Mysterious Stone Structures]

 

The central room, on the other hand, was made of stronger stuff, with its foundations crafted from lime mortar mixed with clay and small pieces of flint and brick. That section likely had a tiled roof. "Roman tiles are very large things, they’re very heavy," Bowden said.

 

Sometime after the demise of this wing-shaped structure, another building, this one decorated, was built over it. Archaeologists found post holes from it with painted wall plaster inside.

 

Bowden said few artifacts were found at the site and none that could be linked to the winged structure with certainty. A plough had ripped through the site at some point, scattering debris. Also, metal detecting is a major problem in the Norfolk area, with people using metal detectors to locate and confiscate materials, something that may have happened at this site.

 

Still, even when the team found undisturbed layers, there was little in the way of artifacts. "This could suggest that it [the winged building] wasn't used for a very particularly long time," Bowden said.

 

Researchers are not certain what the building was used for. While its elevated position made it visible from the town of Venta Icenorum, the foundations of the radiating wings are weak. "It's possible that this was a temporary building constructed for a single event or ceremony, which might account for its insubstantial construction,' writes Bowden in the journal article.

 

"Alternatively the building may represent a shrine or temple on a hilltop close to a Roman road, visible from the road as well as from the town."

 

Adding another layer to this mystery is the ancient history of Norfolk, where the structure was found.

 

The local people in the area, who lived here before the Roman conquest, were known as the Iceni. It may have been their descendants who lived at the site and constructed the winged building.

 

Iceni architecture was quite simple and, as Bowden explained, not as elaborate as this. On the other hand, their religion was intertwined with nature, something which may help explain the wind-blown location of the site. "Iceni gods, pre-Roman gods, tend to be associated with the natural sites: the springs, trees, sacred groves, this kind of thing," said Bowden.

 

The history between the Iceni and the Romans is a violent one. In A.D. 43, when the Romans, under Emperor Claudius, invaded Britain, they encountered fierce resistance from them.  After a failed revolt in A.D. 47 they became a client kingdom of the empire, with Prasutagus as their leader. When he died, around A.D. 60, the Romans tried to finish the subjugation, in brutal fashion.

 

"First, his [Prasutagus'] wife Boudicea was scourged, and his daughters outraged. All the chief men of the Iceni, as if Rome had received the whole country as a gift, were stripped of their ancestral possessions, and the king's relatives were made slaves," wrote Tacitus, a Roman writer in The Annals.  (From the book, "Complete Works of Tacitus," 1942, edited for the Perseus Digital Library.)

 

This led Boudicea (more commonly spelled Boudicca) to form an army and lead a revolt against the Romans. At first she was successful, defeating Roman military units and even sacking Londinium. In the end the Romans rallied and defeated her at the Battle of Watling Street. With the Roman victory the rebellion came to an end, and a town named Venta Icenorum was eventually set up on their land.  [Top 12 Warrior Moms in History]

 

"The Iceni vanish from history effectively after the Boudicca revolt in [A.D.] 60-61," said Bowden.

 

But while they vanished from written history, archaeological clues hint that their spirit remained very much alive. Bowden and David Mattingly, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester, both point out that the area has a low number of villas compared with elsewhere in Britain, suggesting the people continued to resist Roman culture long after Boudicca's failed revolt.

 

This lack of villas, along with problems attracting people to Roman settlements in the area, "can be read as a transcript of resistant adaption and rejection of Roman norms," writes Mattingly in his book "An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire" (Penguin Books, 2007).

 

There is "still a fairly strong local identity," said Bowden, who cautioned that while local people may have lived at the complex, the winged building is out of character for both Roman and Iceni architectural styles, a fact that leaves his team with a mystery.

 

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/887932-amateur-archaeologist-unearths-roman-prostitutes-pendant

Amateur archaeologist unearths 'Roman prostitute's pendant'

An amateur archaeologist has unearthed what could be Britain’s first Roman prostitute’s pendant.

 

Bob Dix found the rarity in the back garden of his former home and, without any further thought, tucked it away for safe-keeping.

But he only realised the pendant could be special after a similar brothel token appeared in the press earlier this month.

Mr Dix’s raunchy Roman jewellery shows a man and woman engaged in a sex act.

He said: ‘I believe the piece I found is slightly different to the one in London - I think it was what the prostitutes would have worn round their necks and people would recognise what service they were willing to provide.’

The pendant was originally found in the village of Pylle, Somerset, which is close to the Roman road known as Fosse Way and a former ancient settlement.

Mr Dix, who now lives in Shepton Mallet, added: ‘I am eager to hear what the experts say.’

 

Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/887932-amateur-archaeologist-unearths-roman-prostitutes-pendant#ixzz1kDnb3QFr

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jan/22/first-hms-victory-raise-us?INTCMP=SRCH

First HMS Victory 'to be raised'

Predecessor of Nelson's flagship, which some believe was carrying £500m of gold coins, sank in 1744

Press Association

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 22 January 2012 09.52 GMT

 

The remains of the first HMS Victory are to be raised from the sea bed nearly 300 years after it sank, it has been reported.

 

The vessel, predecessor of Nelson's famous flagship, went down in a storm off the Channel Islands in 1744, taking more than 1,000 sailors to their deaths.

 

Along with a bronze cannon collection, some believe the ship was carrying a large quantity of gold coins from Lisbon to Britain that would now be worth a reported £500m.

 

According to the Sunday Times the wreck is to be handed over to the Maritime Heritage Foundation, which is expected to employ Odyssey Marine Exploration to carry out the recovery. Odyssey – a US company – found the ship four years ago.

 

The Ministry of Defence said: "Efforts to protect key parts of British naval history such as the wreck of HMS Victory 1744 are very welcome and we hope to make an announcement shortly."

 

The guns and other artefacts would be displayed in British museums, while Odyssey was likely to receive the bulk of any treasure under the laws of salvage, the newspaper reported.

 

The Maritime Heritage Foundation was set up by Lord Lingfield, the Tory peer formerly known as Sir Robert Balchin.

 

He is a relative of Admiral Sir John Balchin who was on board the Victory when it sank, although he stressed he would not profit personally from the ship's cargo.

 

Lord Lingfield told the Sunday Times: "The foundation seeks to prevent damage to this historically important site and maximise its archaeological, scientific and educational value.

 

"We hope it will give a unique insight into the world of the mid-18th century Royal Navy."

 

The ship's location was a mystery that eluded numerous searches before Odyssey discovered the wreck in May 2008.

 

The Florida-based firm found the site at a depth of 330ft in the Channel, nearly 65 miles from where the ship was historically thought to have been wrecked, near the Channel Islands.

 

The Dutch financial publication Amsterdamsche Courant reported on 18 November 1744, a month after the ship sank: "People will have it that on board of the Victory was a sum of £400,000 sterling that it had brought from Lisbon for our merchants."

 

It was also thought that large quantities of silver and gold coins would have been on board the Victory from enemy prize ships captured by Balchin, worth £120,000 at the time.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-guernsey-16686628?

HMS Victory shipwreck to be managed by charity

23 January 2012 Last updated at 18:21

 

A charity has been set up to recover artefacts from HMS Victory, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

 

It confirmed reports the Maritime Heritage Foundation had been set up to "recover, preserve and display in public museums" items from the wreck.

 

More than 1,000 sailors were aboard the British warship when it sank in 1744.

 

Andrew Robathan MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, said it "should give better protection to the wreck".

 

He said it was "very important to British naval heritage".

 

The 100-gun ship, the predecessor to Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's Victory, was launched in 1737.

 

Seven years later it was the flagship of Admiral Sir John Balchin when he led a strong force to successfully relieve a French blockade of the River Tagus, in Portugal, where a British convoy had been trapped.

 

On the return journey a fierce storm blew up and HMS Victory was separated from the fleet and sank with all hands on 5 October 1744.

 

Until the wreck was discovered in May 2008 it was thought it had hit the infamous Casquets, a group of rocks north west of Alderney.

 

The wreck is seen as especially important as it is unusual to find the remains of a British First Rate warship of the period and it represented the pinnacle of naval technology for its time as it was fitted with a complete arsenal of bronze cannon.

 

Odyssey Marine Exploration, the company that found the shipwreck in the English Channel, brought two of the cannon to the surface to allow the ship to be identified.

 

They have been asked by the Maritime Heritage Foundation to support the work.

 

Lord Lingfield, chairman of the foundation, said: "We hope that this site will give us a unique insight into the world of the mid-18th Century Royal Navy.

 

"We are very concerned that natural erosion, damage from fishing vessels and illegal looting may endanger the wreck and therefore we have planned an archaeological survey that will record the site before it deteriorates further.

 

"Odyssey Marine Exploration has proved its expertise and we are looking forward to working with them to protect the maritime heritage associated with Balchin's Victory."

 

The Tory peer, formerly known as Sir Robert Balchin, is a relative of Admiral Balchin.