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Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK


Maritime archaeologists said Friday they have begun excavating the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank off the English coast in 1740, recovering leather shoes, silver and the bones of its lost crew.

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
A diver works on the wreck of the Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship which sank in 1740,
on the sea bed off the coast of Ramsgate, southeast England [Credit: Historic England via AFP]
The Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship, was on its way to what is now Jakarta when it went down with around 300 people and a large cargo of silver ingots and coinage aboard.

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Diver records measurements of Rooswijk wreck [Credit: Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands]
Following its discovery in 2005, most of the precious goods were removed, but a full excavation is now underway due to concerns it could be destroyed by shifting sands and currents.

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Coins recovered from Rooswijk wreck in 2005 [Credit: Zeeuws maritiem muZEEum]
Remains of some of the sailors who perished have been found preserved on the seabed 26 metres (85 feet) down, along with more coins, leather shoes, an oil lamp, glass bottles, pewter jugs and spoons and ornately carved knife handles.

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Maritime archaeologist Thijs Coenen with a pewter jug he recovered from the Rooswijk 
[Credit: The Rooswijk 1740 Project, Historic England]
"It's a snapshot of a moment in time," said Alison James, a maritime archaeologist at the Historic England cultural agency, while one her colleagues said it was like "an underwater Pompeii".

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Pewter tankard found in Rooswijk wreck [Credit: Historic England]
The items brought ashore for conservation also include wooden seaman's chests which will be x-rayed to see if they are contain cargo or personal possessions.

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Musket balls from Rooswijk [Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Images]
James told AFP it was a remarkable site: "It's incredibly well-preserved, it's a very early wreck and there's a lot of material on the seabed."

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Maritime archaeologist Liselore An Muis holding a glass brandy bottle recovered 
from the Rooswijk [Credit: The Rooswijk 1740 Project, Historic England]
The wreck is under the legal protection and management of the British government, although the excavation is led and financed by the Dutch government, which also owns any finds.

Bones, silver found in 18th-century Dutch wreck off UK
Pewter spoons from Rooswijk [Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Images]
The project is the largest of its scale on a ship from the Dutch East India Company, which lost a total of 250 vessels to shipwreck -- of which only a third have been located.

Source: AFP [August 20, 2017]
TANN

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