Starting on Monday, archaeologists will dismantle the 18th century ship discovered at the Ground Zero site and transport it to storage to study them for further study. The work is estimated to take five to eight days, but the Port Authority hopes to speed it up by adding double shifts.
The hundreds of timbers will go to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, about 50 miles outside of Washington, D.C., where archaeologists will study them further.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which owns the site where the boat was found, will seek public comment about plans for the vessel, but the agency has not yet released any details on whether or not it will be displayed.
A team of archaeologists from AKRF has been documenting the boat as quickly as possible. Within moments of being excavated, the fragile wood started deteriorating. The archaeologists are now keeping the boat wet and covered in protective sheeting so the wooden beams will stay intact.
The boat likely measured 60 feet by 18 feet and was either a small transatlantic vessel or a large coastal one, said Diane Dallal, director of archeology for AKRF. The portion uncovered at the World Trade Center is about 30 feet long and likely represents the front half of the boat.
Dallal said the ship appears to have been a privately owned vessel, which is especially interesting. While extensive historic documentation exists for larger vessels like warships or government boats, smaller privately owned boats like this one often sailed under the radar.
“We know so little about the mundane ships in New York,” Dallal said. “It will provide information about the construction, the design, the utilization.”
Dallal believes the boat was sunk on purpose, as part of the landfill that extended Manhattan’s shoreline west into the Hudson River, similar to the Purton Hulks site along the River Severn in England. Her team has also found scraps of shoe leather, shards of dishes and other refuse from the turn of the 19th century.
If this site is similar to the River Severn site, several more barges could be lurking in the ground beneath the site.