Shipwreck From 1800s: Archaeologists Performed 3D Scan Of ‘Remarkable’ Ship Found Under Boston’s Seaport District

A burned and sunken ship was discovered last week while a construction company was performing work on Boston’s Seaport District. CBS Boston has reported that archaeologists have performed a 3D scan on the shipwreck from the 1800s yesterday.

According to city archaeologist Joe Bagley, this is the first time any shipwreck, let alone one from the 1800s, was found in this section of the city. It is also only the second shipwreck to be fund on land that was filled in when the footprint of the city was being expanded. Unlike other shipwrecks that have been discovered, the cargo of this shipwreck from the 1800s was mostly intact.

“This has never happened in Boston.”

The vessel from the shipwreck appeared to be partially burnt. It was originally unearthed just last week during the construction of a 17-story office building, according to CBS News. Skanska, the construction company working on the building, halted the construction project to give archaeologists a chance to examine the shipwreck from the 1800s.

According to Joe Bagley, the area was once mudflats that shifted between being dry land and being water based. Ships were able to sail right over the property. It was in the later part of the 1800s that this section of the Boston Harbor was filled in. Today, it is home to expensive condos, upscale places to eat, and office buildings.

So far, archaeologists who are studying the 1800s shipwreck discovered a knife, a shattered ceramic vessel, loose nails, and some construction equipment.

The ship appeared to have been transporting a load of lime. The lime would have been used for construction and masonry. After getting wet from the shipwreck, the lime would have been unusable. This is likely the biggest reason why the cargo was left behind. Joe Bagley stated that it is “pretty remarkable” to find a shipwreck like this from the 1800s as it was typical for ships to be completely scavenged for any and all valuables after being wrecked.

The lime on the ship was likely being brought to Maine from Boston during the building boom in the 19th century. Joe Bagley went on to say that he could appreciate the irony in the fact that the 1800s shipwreck was discovered during another building boom within the city of Boston.

“They’re really part of the same narrative of Boston growing as a city.”

According to this archaeologist, discovering this 1800s shipwreck really says a lot about this nearly 400-year-old city.

“To me what it says is that history is everywhere in Boston — sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to find it.”

While archaeologists and history buffs are thrilled at the discovery of this shipwreck from the 1800s, the construction company who originally unearthed the shipwreck is not nearly as thrilled. Shawn Hurley, an executive of the construction company building the 17-story office building claims the construction project was halted for nearly a week because of the discovery.

“There are certainly impacts, but we’ll work through them.”

According to CBS Boston, the construction company did not have a legal obligation to halt construction for the archaeologists to have time to study and scan the 1800s shipwreck. The construction company made the decision to halt the work despite knowing it could significantly delay the timeline of the construction project.

What do you think about this rare and remarkable find? Do you think the construction company did the right thing halting the project so archaeologists could scan and study the shipwreck from the 1800s? Do you think it is possible there are more sunken ships buried under land in the city of Boston?

[Image via Shutterstock]