In 1682, Gloucester completed 22 years in the English fleet. The frigate was, in early May, serving the royal family and was traveling along the Norfolk coast, on its way to Edinburgh, Scotland. Although he was equipped with fifty guns, his task was frugal: to bring Mary, Duchess of York, to take her to London. In an entourage of 330, her husband, James Stewart, Duke of York, was leading a lady’s party, with plenty of drinks, elaborate dishes, and even music. The brother of King Charles II and heir to the English throne, he used his power as a former high-ranking sailor to settle a dispute between the various commanders of the fleet over whether to continue on the same route or stay away from the coast. Maintaining course and speed, the 755-ton ship hit a sandbar on the sixth day and sank within 45 minutes, killing between 130 and 250 people.
For years, the Gloucester wreck lay on the sea floor undisturbed. On the surface, the scandalous plot helped to forget what was left under the water. Among the survivors of the tragedy, the future King James II evaded his responsibility by accusing the frigate captain of negligence and asking to be hanged – the sailor was sentenced to life imprisonment, and a year later, he ditched the sentence, leaving through the back door .. the ship and its cargo were found thanks to the efforts and stubbornness of Lincoln and Julian Barnwell, the two English brothers of shipwreck fishermen. From the graphics family, they started the missions in 2003, out of curiosity and adventurous spirit at first. But they did not stop until they found the first traces of the ship, cannons, and wooden slats.
Confirmation that they were Gloucester’s remains came only later, with the salvage of a bell—necessary for ship identification—and other artifacts, such as clothing, shoes, navigation equipment, professional marine equipment, personal belongings, and several bottles of wine. One of them, closed, bears a seal with the coat of arms of the Legge family, ancestors of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The discovery of the discovery took some time because it was necessary to verify the identity of the ship and to protect the historic site, near Great Yarmouth, on the east coast of England. “The discovery promises to change the understanding of the social, maritime and political history of the seventeenth century,” says Professor Claire Jewett of the University of East Anglia.
Other recent discoveries were only possible thanks to technology. A short time ago, scientists from the English Environment Agency discovered a ship from the 19th century thanks to the use of underwater vehicles capable of recording images with very high accuracy. Then Greek archaeologists used artificial intelligence to process images of an underwater site and discovered a 2,000-year-old Roman ship called Fiscardo. The most extraordinary case is Endurance, which was found last March in the frigid seas of Antarctica after spending 106 years at the bottom of the ocean. Its exact location was revealed only with the help of drones and sensors. The sailboat took explorer Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men to the South Pole before he drowned in the Weddell Sea in 1915.
UNESCO estimates that there are 3 million shipwrecks on the sea floor. Even with advanced technologies, the ocean depths must be acknowledged as treacherous environments. In addition to the high cost of exploration equipment, there are logistical aspects, such as transportation, and environmental aspects, such as weather instability, to overcome. However, the hunt for marine treasures is expected to continue. “Technology greatly enhances the production of archaeological knowledge,” says marine archaeologist Christian Amarante. This means: Soon, new Gloucesters and Endurances will be found.
Posted in VEJA on Jul 6, 2022, Number 2796
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