Forget the metrosexual man... stone age men had more of a 'feminine' side, claims Manchester uni archaeologist

Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 10:18

By Mancunian Matters staff


Stone age men had more of a ‘feminine side’ than their modern counterparts, according to a University of Manchester archaeologist.


Dr Karina Croucher has studied remains of Neolithic men and women who lived across the Middle East around 10,000 years ago.


Studying a ‘death pit’ of over 40 people, Dr Croucher believes it reveals a greater compassionate side in men, and less well defined gender boundaries.


Dr Croucher said: “It’s clear the relationship between men and women during the Neolithic Period does not conform to the modern age.


“The stereotypical and inaccurate view of male hunters dominating their more submissive female counterparts is an articulation of male bias in archaeology.


“It was much less well defined than that: men and women were treated equally in death and were shown equal compassion, and their tasks were likely to be thought of as equal during life.”


Among the 40 bodies in the South East Turkey ‘death pit’ was the body of a teenage girl, who the excavators have called ‘Kim’.


They believe Kim’s body was carefully tended to by both men and women, and was protected from scavengers.


Recreations of the faces of the dead were made in plaster on the skulls – and again it is believed this was not dependent on age or gender, rather on their relationships.


Dr Croucher added: “Our biases in the present were not relevant to our ancestors, and are not natural or inherent behaviours.


“So we should not understand the past in our own terms: it’s more about their relationships with each other; materials and animals."


The male bias in archaeology has distorted our understanding of how ancient peoples lived, Dr Croucher argues. Her new book on the subject is published by Oxford University Press.



Archaeologist accuses Heritage Minister of 'potentially damaging' his reputation

By Martin Shipton, WalesOnlineAug 1 2012Comments (4) Recommend


One of Wales’ best known archaeologists says he is baffled at how Heritage Minister Huw Lewis came to describe an important site he is excavating as of Roman origin when he is certain it dates back to the Bronze Age.


Steve Clarke, who runs Monmouth Archaeology, feels his professional integrity has been impugned by the Minister’s statement, and has asked for an independent expert to be called in to review the dating evidence.


The significant find at the site in Monmouth has astonished historians and archaeologists, who believe it could reflect a structure entirely unique to Britain, which dates back to at least the Bronze Age.


Experts have suggested that the structure’s size and the fact it was made from entire trees mean it could be a “long house” – raising the possibility it could date as far back as the New Stone Age (the Neolithic Age) and could pre-date the Pyramids from 3,000-2,000BC.


The settlement lies on the banks of an ancient lake which silted up over thousands of years ago and probably started shortly after the last glaciation of the Ice Age.


Archaeologists from Mr Clarke’s body, a professional wing of the Monmouth Archaeological Society, were employed by housing developers Charles Church to study the site ahead of construction, and stumbled across the site during excavation.


Last month Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay asked Mr Lewis a series of questions about the find, which he was anxious to see preserved.


In the written response he has received from the Minister, Mr Lewis said: “[As] is frequently the case with ongoing archaeological investigations, interpretations change. It is now recognised that the features are cut from a higher level and therefore are of a later, as yet unknown, date.


“On site discussions have now been held between the excavators, my officials in [heritage body] Cadw and officers from the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust.


“Although interpretations differ as to what the trenches might represent and how old they might be, it is now accepted that it is very unlikely that they represent a prehistoric house.


“It is possible that they may represent part of a later Roman system of drainage ditches similar to those found form the Roman period on the Gwent Levels.


“My officials at Cadw do not feel that they can make a recommendation to schedule the site as an ancient monument because its date and function remains uncertain, and its full extent unclear. Parts of the trench system will anyway remain preserved below an adjacent planned green space within the development.”


Mr Clarke has written to Mr Lewis stating: “The dating of the Early Bronze Age site to 3,630 years before the present is based on radiocarbon dating by the SUERC Radiocarbon Laboratory in Scotland and by other aspects, including Bronze Age ceramics, while other remains are explained through standard archaeological evidence and practice.


“There is absolutely no evidence of Roman occupation on the site or in its vicinity as claimed in the Cadw report. Our interpretation of the evidence is also based on many years as professional field archaeologists dealing with an average of 50 archaeological sites each year, all of which have been published in academic journals.


“I feel that the Cadw report is potentially damaging to our professional reputation and I ask that you investigate the circumstances and take the appropriate action as soon as you are able.”


Mr Ramsay said: “I fully agree with Mr Clarke. I cannot understand why reference was made to the site being Roman. It just doesn’t make sense.”


Last night a spokeswoman for Cadw said: “Differences in interpretation as investigations continue are not unusual amongst archaeologists and it is no reflection on Mr Clarke’s professional expertise or integrity that his interpretation differs from other archaeologists who have seen the site.


“However, there are currently no finds, dating, or environmental evidence from the three shallow clay-filled trenches . There are, therefore, no grounds for Cadw to intervene at this stage, for example by recommending the features are scheduled as an ancient monument.


“We are satisfied that Monmouthshire council and their archaeological advisors, the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, can continue to ensure that the archaeological planning condition is properly discharged.”




Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/08/01/archaeologist-accuses-heritage-minister-of-potentially-damaging-his-reputation-91466-31519894/#ixzz22f6AQZ6p



'No-go zone' imposed around Enniskillen crannog

30 July 2012 Last updated at 19:56


The environment minister has imposed a "no-go zone" around an archaeological site on the route of a new road in County Fermanagh.


Archaeologists are currently excavating the crannog - a kind of artificial island - and have said that it could date back more than 1,000 years.


The minister, Alex Attwood, has banned construction traffic from passing close to the crannog during excavation work.


The new road will eventually be built on top of the crannog, and the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) has raised concerns about "the apparently imminent destruction" of the historical site.


We will appoint an independent person or persons to review the full story of this site, including how the current situation developed”

Alex Attwood

Environment minister


The crannog was regarded as too fragile to preserve rather than excavate after nearby engineering works for the road scheme drained water from the site.


A period of seven weeks was allocated for archaeologists to examine and record the crannog before the construction went ahead. The IfA said this was inadequate.


Mr Attwood visited the area on Monday and described it as "a wonderful site, full of our history and precious archaeology".


He said: "I have requested a report by Wednesday on what further time, staff and resources are needed to fully excavate the crannog.


"As one of the very few to be excavated, I wish to deploy appropriate resources to fully excavate and record this gem of archaeology".


The Roads Service said it was not aware of the existence of the crannog before construction work began.


A spokesman told the BBC they would have attempted to build around, rather than through the site, had they known in advance. They are picking up the bill for the excavation.


Campaigners say the existence of the crannog has been long known and listed in planning documents for some years.


Mr Attwood said he would "appoint an independent person or persons to review the full story of this site, including how the current situation developed".


He added: "If the crannog cannot now be saved, I will work to have a maximum excavation and record strategy going forward."


'Bronze Age'

The crannog was originally thought to be 700 years old, but fragments of pottery found at the site date from as far back as the ninth century.


Other finds include arrowheads dating from the Bronze Age, a leather shoe which was preserved in the earth and a fine-toothed comb made from bone.



Dig Reveals Early Christian Cemetery

Graves were uncovered at Camp Farm dig site in Maryport, Great Britain.

Wed, Aug 01, 2012


Early Christian graves have been found in the archaeological dig at Camp Farm, Maryport, next to the foundations for a large building identified in the 2011 excavation season.  The site overlooks a nearby Roman fort and settlement.

Said Newcastle University’s Professor Ian Haynes, project director for the excavation,: “We still haven’t resolved the full plan of the site, and this will be our focus for the remaining weeks of the excavation. As far as the structures are concerned, it’s looking as if there are at least two phases of construction.  Meanwhile, the graves that have been discovered indicate sustained use of the cemetery site.”

Painstaking excavation has revealed bone fragments, caps of tooth enamel, a glass bead necklace and a tiny fragment, about the size of a thumbnail, of ancient textile.

“Given the ground conditions at this site the survival of this scrap of material is nothing less than miraculous", said site director Tony Wilmot. “We’re discovering new things on an almost daily basis which are giving us new insights into what happened on this site across hundreds of years. It will take a while to process all the information following the dig but what we think we’re looking at now is a Christian cemetery close to a sequence of Christian religious buildings.  If this is the case then this is a very exciting discovery - an early post-Roman Christian religious site occupied at the same time as other famous early Christian sites at Whithorn and at Hoddom in nearby Dumfriesshire.”


The westernmost grave is a typical long cist grave, lined with stones.  Such graves, dated to the period

400 to 600 AD, are occasionally found in the west of Britain and in southern Scotland and are characteristic of the late Roman and early post-Roman Christian settlements of the area.  In this stone lined grave was a white quartz stone that appears to have been deliberately placed there at the burial. This is also a marker of this period, found at several sites including Whithorn in Dumfriesshire, in Ireland and on the Isle of Man, and at Whitby in North Yorkshire.

The soil on the Maryport site is acidic, so the team did not expect any bones to have survived but small fragments of three of the long bones and three caps of tooth enamel were found in the brown stain which was all that was left of the occupant of the grave.

In the second grave there were no human remains.  Where the head would have been, the grave was lined with pebbles and a Roman roofing slate had been reused as a pillow stone. This grave appears to have been the final element of a sequence of three intercutting graves, so the cemetery was used over at least three generations of burial.

Another stone-lined grave showed signs of a timber coffin.

The deepest grave, also stone lined, is very small, possibly the grave of a child. In one corner, coiled up, was a necklace of glass beads. In a pagan grave the deceased would probably have been wearing this necklace, but here it looks as though it has been placed in the corner, possibly as a favourite object deposited as a keepsake.  The textile fragment was found during wet-sieving of the lower fill of this grave.

The bone fragments and the textile fragment will now be sent to an archaeological laboratory to determine if there is enough material for radiocarbon dating, and the glass necklace will be conserved for display in the Senhouse Roman Museum.

Further excavation of the post-holes for the large building has yielded the corner of an altar capital and an altar fragment bearing an inscription, ‘IS’.


Peter Greggains of the Senhouse Museum Trust said: “We are delighted that, for the second year in succession, the careful work of the volunteers and the Newcastle University team, ably directed by Ian and Tony, has produced such breath-taking results.

“The Maryport site’s importance as a unique and valuable resource capable of providing information about the remote past has been established beyond doubt, and we now have new light on the Dark Ages.” 

Said Nigel Mills, director of world heritage and access for the Hadrian’s Wall Trust: “We are delighted that the importance of Maryport in the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site is being fully confirmed through this important work. Evidence of continued occupation of former Roman sites across Hadrian’s Wall is transforming our understanding of how people adapted to the end of Roman rule.”


This year’s Maryport excavation is funded by the Senhouse Museum Trust, Newcastle University and the Mouswald Trust. The team includes archaeologists and students from Newcastle University and 42 local volunteers.

The site is part of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site and a scheduled ancient monument.  It is owned by the Hadrian’s Wall Trust and is part of the proposed Roman Maryport heritage development.

On August 4, 2012, an excavation open day will be held from 11am to 4pm for visitors who are interested in knowing what goes on behind the scenes of an excavation. Senhouse Roman Museum admission applies. Visitors to the museum will be able to take guided tours around the site and to the site of the Roman fort and civilian settlement until August 14.




August 6, 2012 by HeritageDaily in Archaeology News, United Kingdom Comments (0)



Soldiers taking part in ‘Operation Nightingale’ unearthed a major sixth-century burial site at Barrow Clump, uncovering 27 bodies – including Anglo-Saxon warriors – buried with a range of personal possessions. Artefacts uncovered included shield bosses, broaches, amber and glass beads, spear heads, a silver ring, and a wooden drinking vessel with bronze bands.


The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) worked with The Rifles to create the project, which helps soldiers injured in Afghanistan return to their regiment or prepare for civilian life. It also helps the Ministry Of Defence fulfil its statutory obligations.



“The project has been a huge success and represents a significant archaeological find. The Bronze Age and Anglo Saxon burial ground is relatively small and we expected to uncover around 15 graves, but instead have unearthed 27.


“Archaeologically, the really exciting thing is that because of the variety of artefacts found by soldiers working on Operation Nightingale, any future student wanting to study the sixth century of Wessex will have to refer to Barrow Clump. This is thanks to the hard work of the soldiers from the British Army.”


Co-directed by Richard Osgood and Sgt Diarmaid Walshe, of Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), the project draws in assistance from partners including English Heritage, Wessex Archaeology and the Army’s survey unit, 135 Geographical Squadron, to help deliver the programme.


Operation Nightingale recently received a special award from the British Archaeological Awards in recognition of its innovative use of archaeological work to boost the recovery and career prospects of military personnel injured in Afghanistan.



“I never imaged that we would uncover such amazing artefacts. I discovered a warrior that had been buried with his shield placed across his face, which I believe to be a sign of respect.


“I have been to war myself and I can imagine what the soldier would have felt as he went into battle. Knowing that as a modern day warrior I have unearthed the remains of another, fills me with an overwhelming sense of respect.”


The project gives soldiers the opportunity to learn a series of excavation, land survey, drawing and mapping techniques and also enhancing their publication and presentation skills. Eight soldiers are moving on to study archaeology at Leicester University, thanks to the programme. The project also helps build a sense of worth and purpose for participants through learning new skills and building on team-working and social skills.


One of the soldiers’ early discoveries was the remains of a sixth-century Anglo-Saxon female. ‘Davina’, as they named the woman, was believed to have died in her late teens to early 20s. Artefacts unearthed at Barrow Clump will finally be laid to rest in Wiltshire Heritage Museum, in Devizes.



“My best subject at school was History and I really enjoyed school trips to museums, I cant believe that when I visit the Wiltshire heritage museum I will be looking at artefacts that I have found.”



“We hope to be able to put the artefacts on permanent display in a new Anglo Saxon gallery. In the meantime, we are looking to feature these wonderful and amazing discoveries in an exclusive exhibition, some time in the near future.”



Chocolate residue found on early Maya plates, a first

By Thomas H. Maugh II

August 3, 2012, 11:18 a.m.


Archaeologists have found residues of cacao -- or chocolate -- on 2,500-year-old plate fragments from the Northern Maya Lowlands in Yucatan, Mexico. Although cacao residue has been found in cups from other sites that are 1,000 years older, this is the oldest trace of cacao in this northern region.


Perhaps more important, it is the first evidence that the Maya used cacao for anything other than as a drink. The presence of cacao on a plate suggests that it was used as a spice or sauce for food. Perhaps it was even a precursor of the popular mole sauce for meats, often made with chocolate, now widely used in Mexican cuisine.


Researchers had previously thought that the only uses for cacao by the Maya were crushing the beans and dissolving it in liquid to make a drink something like hot chocolate, or fermenting the pulp that surrounds the beans in its pod to make an alcoholic drink.


The plate fragments were recovered in 2001 by archaeologist Tomas Gallareta Negron of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History and his colleagues at Paso del Macho in the Southern Puuc region of Mexico. Paso del Macho, which dates from 600 BC to 500 BC, was a relatively small site, but must have been important because it had several small mounds and a ball court, said archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who also worked at the site. "The fact that the inhabitants were able to acquire and use cacao indicates they were part of the larger Maya world even at this early date," he said in a news release announcing the discovery.


Chemist Timothy Ward of Millsaps and his colleagues extracted the residue from the plate fragments and submitted it to mass spectrometry, which identified a ratio of theobromine and caffeine characteristic of cacao.


"This evidence, combined with other archaeological, architectural and settlement data, is providing us with a new view of this little known area of the Maya world during the earliest times," Gallareta Negron said. "The Northern Maya world was just as complex and sophisticated as the far better known Southern Maya area, and we can now add the consumption of cacao to this list of traits."



Mass grave in London reveals how volcano caused global catastrophe

Scientists search for the explosive source of a disaster that wiped out almost a third of Londoners in 1258

Dalya Alberge

The Observer, Sunday 5 August 2012


When archaeologists discovered thousands of medieval skeletons in a mass burial pit in east London in the 1990s, they assumed they were 14th-century victims of the Black Death or the Great Famine of 1315-17. Now they have been astonished by a more explosive explanation – a cataclysmic volcano that had erupted a century earlier, thousands of miles away in the tropics, and wrought havoc on medieval Britons.


Scientific evidence – including radiocarbon dating of the bones and geological data from across the globe – shows for the first time that mass fatalities in the 13th century were caused by one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past 10,000 years.


Such was the size of the eruption that its sulphurous gases would have released a stratospheric aerosol veil or dry fog that blocked out sunlight, altered atmospheric circulation patterns and cooled the Earth's surface. It caused crops to wither, bringing famine, pestilence and death.


Mass deaths required capacious burial pits, as recorded in contemporary accounts. In 1258, a monk reported: "The north wind prevailed for several months… scarcely a small rare flower or shooting germ appeared, whence the hope of harvest was uncertain... Innumerable multitudes of poor people died, and their bodies were found lying all about swollen from want… Nor did those who had homes dare to harbour the sick and dying, for fear of infection… The pestilence was immense – insufferable; it attacked the poor particularly. In London alone 15,000 of the poor perished; in England and elsewhere thousands died."


There does not seem to have been any explanation at the time; it was probably assumed to be a punishment from God. London's population at the time was around 50,000, so the loss of 15,000 would have radically changed the city.


Surprisingly, perhaps, the volcano's exact location has yet to be established. Mexico, Ecuador and Indonesia are the most likely areas, according to vulcanologists, who found evidence in ice cores from the northern hemisphere and Antarctic and within a thick layer of ash from Lake Malawi sediments. The ice core sulphate concentration shows that it was up to eight times higher than Indonesia's Krakatoa eruption of 1883, one of the most catastrophic in history.


Some 10,500 medieval skeletons were found at Spitalfields market, the site of the Augustinian priory and hospital of St Mary Spital, and the remains suggest there may have been as many as 18,000. The excavation between 1991 and 2007 by the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) was the largest ever archaeological investigation in the capital. It was a member of that team, osteologist Don Walker, who discovered the link with a volcano. The findings will be revealed in Mola's report, to be published on Monday.


Vulcanologist Bill McGuire said: "This was the biggest eruption in historic times. It may have brought the temperatures down by 4C, a huge amount."


Online Comment from Jakartass

5 August 2012 3:52AM

Surprisingly, perhaps, the volcano's exact location has yet to be established. Mexico, Ecuador and Indonesia are the most likely areas, according to vulcanologists, who found evidence in ice cores from the northern hemisphere and Antarctic and within a thick layer of ash from Lake Malawi sediments.

A cursory search reveals that Mount Rinjani on the Island of Lombok is the likely culprit.

Of the other 'candidates', Mexico’s El Chichón and Quilotoa in the Ecuadorean Andes, the chemical composition of rocks from those volcanoes doesn’t really match the 1258CE sulfur from ice cores.




York Archaeological Trust excavates Guildhall yard and basement of Mansion House

10:44am Saturday 4th August 2012 in News By Haydn Lewis, haydn.lewis@thepress.co.uk


BURIED deep beneath York’s historic Guildhall and Mansion House complex lie centuries of secrets from the city’s prosperous past.


Archaeologists have been excavating the Guildhall yard, the basements of the Mansion House, and an underground passageway leading to the River Ouse known as Common Hall Lane.


It’s the first-ever archaeological dig on the site and The Press joined director of archaeology at York Archaeological Trust, Pete Connelly and the trust’s assistant field officer Jim Williams, along with field archaeologist Paul Howlett, to take a peek at finds from beneath York’s corridors of power.


Work has been going on at the site over two weeks and expensive 18th century blue and white Delft tiles have been found in the Guildhall yard, as well as a clay pipe and fragments of pottery and glass dating back to the 1720s, when the current Mansion House was being built.


In Common Hall Lane medieval pottery and the neck of an 18th century wine bottle, amazingly well preserved in the soft soil, are among the finds the public will be able to see from Monday. Mr Howlett said: “We are trying to understand how this part of the landscape has changed since Roman times when there was a Roman gate in St Helen’s Square connecting what is now Stonegate to the river.


 “It is quite possible that there was a sheer drop off and a cliff at the river side at that point as the land slopes from there down to the river – we just don’t know, and that’s what’s so exciting. It means we are on a medieval archaelogical voyage of discovery.” Mr Williams said: “It would be brilliant if we found remains of Roman pottery or even evidence of the Roman road going down to the river.”


The public won’t be allowed into the basement of the Mansion House, where there is a beer cellar where a one-metre deep hole has been dug beneath the foundations of the original building down to sandy deposits beneath.


The dig will be open to the public at set times from Monday to Friday next week, as part of York’s Medieval Summer, when the public will be able to meet members of the Trust meet the archaeologists and see recent finds. Visitors will also be able to see the recent vertical survey and imaging of the Guildhall which was carried out by the Trust.


To book, phone 01904 615505.


• Former Time Team presenter Prof Mick Aston is due to visit the site on Friday and the hope is that finds will eventually be displayed in the Mansion House.



Kenya: Malindi Archaeologists Make New Discoveries

Tagged: East Africa, Human Rights, Kenya



Kenyan and Chinese archaeologists yesterday made another major breakthrough in their excavation work after they discovered prisoners' shackles and spent cartridges at a mass grave in Malindi.


The experts described the items as a possible link that indicated there were military activities in Malindi Kingdom and the Kenyan coast. In their latest findings at the site, which had over 15 mammalian skeletons, the archeologists also found skeletons believed to be of wild animals together with those that are human-like.


Other discoveries in the 'mass grave site' were Indian and Chinese pottery materials, which the excavators said was a clear proof that Malindi had trade links with the Far East during the pre-colonial era. Jambo Haro, the National Museums of Kenya head of archaeology in charge of Coast and Caesar Bita, NMK's head of underwater archaeology, led the excavation team.


Haro said the discovery is clear evidence that the skeletons in the trench is not a mass grave but a proof that there were warfare activities. "Today, we have made a major breakthrough in the trench being excavated and cleared out the assumptions that this was a mass grave. In our excavation, we found two shackles (handcuffs) and spent cartridges, a clear indication that the bodies were related to military work," he said.


The Archeologist said they could however not ascertain whether the skeletons were those of prisoners of war until further analysis. "There is also pottery materials related to Indians, a clear indication that the Coastal Community traded with the Indians," he said.


The site where the mammalian skeletons were found at the Malindi chief's office is near the Indian Ocean and very close to the former water mark and which has now turned to be a riparian land.


Other sites identified include the Malindi Museum and Mamburui which is believed to have existed in the past 1400 years ago. Research being undertaken is aimed to trace Chinese trade links and dubbed the 'CINO' Kenya. Mr. Bita said they were expecting to make more discoveries that would help in rewriting the history f Malindi Kingdom and its links to the Far East. He advised locals to tour the sites and learn about the history as it was important not only to the world. Some of the locals who have visited the site were shocked to see such major findings and wondered how the experts chose the location.



Captain Morgan's treasure unearthed in Panama

An original Pirate of the Caribbean's loot from the 17th century has been recovered from the ocean and will go on show

By Anthea Gerrie 31 July, 2012


The belongings of a real-life Pirate of the Caribbean have been discovered off the coast of Panama and are set to go on show for travelers keen to see how 17th-century buccaneers lived.


The pirate was Captain Henry Morgan, of rum bottle fame, a Welshman who looted throughout the Spanish Main in the 17th century before losing five ships in the West Indies.


Fritz Hanselmann, an underwater archaeologist with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University, found swords, barrels and chests belonging to one of Morgan's ships after a three-year search.


“Morgan was one of the most infamous privateers of all time, so this was a chance to use archaeological research to bridge the gap between science and pop culture,” Hanselmann says.


The recovery follows the discovery of six of Morgan’s cannons off the Panamanian coast in 2010.


In 1670 Captain Henry Morgan amassed the largest fleet ever seen in the Caribbean and set his sights on Panama City, then the richest city in the Western hemisphere.


En route, his flagship, Satisfaction, and four other ships ran aground on the Lajas Reef at the base of Fort San Lorenzo, guarding the mouth of the Chagres River, the sole waterway leading to Panama City. 


Despite the setback, Morgan and his men secured the fort, sailed up the Chagres and ultimately took Panama City by hacking their way through dense rainforest.


Now the captain will live again in 21st-century Panama. 


A sword, chests and barrels attributed to Morgan will go on show at the Patronato Panama Viejo, or Old Panama Trust, in Panama City, and will be just the start of what explorers believe is a much larger stash. 


The search is continuing in the Chagres River, near where the ships foundered on the shallow reef.


Hanselmann is full of admiration for the man he describes as “an iconic historical figure who accomplished incredible feats throughout the Caribbean.” 


And the archaeologist is by no means ready to head back to Texas, with four more wrecks still lurking on the sea bed.


“Locating his lost ships and being able to preserve and share what we find with the public is our ultimate goal.”


Drinks giant Diageo, which owns the Captain Morgan brand, is no doubt delighted -- most brands have to invent legendary figures to sell their product. 


“In our case we didn’t have to make up a story -- ours is real, just waiting to be discovered at the bottom of the ocean floor,” says Tom Herbst, brand director for Captain Morgan USA.  


“This adventure we’ve embarked on embodies the character of Morgan himself and the free-spirited nature of rum.”


But Diageo won’t get to own this valuable real estate, although no one can stop the company enjoying the brand awareness it brings.


All artifacts recovered will remain the property of the Panamaian government and should prove a valuable asset to the old city of Panama, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.