19th century shipwreck artifacts brought ashore in Galveston

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artifactsGALVESTON, TX – There’s a cold case about 170 miles from Galveston.

Cold, wet, and deep.

Images taken by the Okeanos Explorer of a 200-year-old shipwreck in about 4,300 feet of water about 150 miles off the Galveston coast have gotten the world of underwater archaeology all excited.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, sent out its exploration vessel Nautilus to excavate and document the site, and to bring back some of the artifacts.

“There’s a number of things that are extremely fragile, especially three muskets that we recovered,’ explained Fritz Hanselmann, Chief Underwater Archeologist, Texas State University. ‘They appear to be British muskets. But the wood is largely intact. A lot of barrels are gone, but we were able to get diagnostic information from the guns themselves. And those are probably the most fragile artifacts we recovered.”

The folks who know about these things think the ships may have been sailing together, and were privateers. Not pirates who were basically murdering thieves in boats.

Privateers had a license to kill from governments in search of plunder from enemy nations.

Given the time frame of the early 1800s, those governments could have been the US, Mexico, or Spain.

Chris Horrell, Ph.D., from Missouri City, is an archeologist on the project, “It’s an incredible feeling to know that the stuff that you’re looking at is tied to all this history, all this activity going on. And to know that you live in an area where this stuff took place. It’s incredible.”

The artifacts will go to Texas A & M University’s Cultural Resources Laboratory for a lengthy and meticulous preservation process.