Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bronze Age boats

"There was huge excitement over the first boat, and then they were phoning the office saying they'd found another, and another, and another..." remembers conservator Ian Panter of the York Archaeological Trust about the day archaeologists discovered 8 bronze age log boats in a quarry in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, U.K. (PHOTOS HERE). The boats are still remarkably preserved after 3,000 years. Currently under refrigeration, they are being conserved and displayed at the Flag Fen archaeology site. One measures almost 28' (8.5 m) long, another (IMAGE ABOVE) is covered with decorative carvings, and several had patches and plugs. There was a vessel with handles for lifting it out of the water and another with traces of fire on the deck where the fishermen cooked their catch. For reasons unknown, the boats had been deliberately sunk and were preserved beneath the silt in the bed of a dried-up creek. Site director Kerry Murrell, remarked: "Some show signs of long use and repair – but others are in such good condition they look as if you could just drop the transom board back in and paddle away." In fact, you could! Unlike some of the replicas made over the past few years, one of the original vessels – carved of solid oak – was still so light and buoyant that when the excavated trench filled with rainwater, the archaeologists were able to float it into its cradle for lifting and transportation.

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