There is always so much to discover, sometimes right under our feet. That’s why I suspect that archaeology, despite the drudgery, is a happy career.
Washington Post reporter Patricia Sullivan found some happy archaeologists who discovered an ancient ship where a hotel is being built. (Of course, the hotel people are probably tearing their hair out right about now.)
Sullivan writes, “A large, heavy ship, scuttled between 1775 and 1798, is being dug out of its damp grave at the site of a new hotel construction project in Old Town Alexandria.
“Archaeologists found the partial hull of a ship at 220 S. Union Street, part of the city’s major redevelopment of the Potomac River waterfront. It’s on the same one-block site where workers two months ago discovered a 1755 foundation from a warehouse that is believed to have been the city’s first public building.
“ ‘It’s very rare. This almost never happens,’ said Dan Baicy, the hard-hatted field director for Thunderbird Archaeology, the firm watching for historic evidence during construction. ‘In 15 years that I’ve done this work, I’ve never run into this kind of preservation in an urban environment where there’s so much disturbance.’ …
“Digging by hand, archaeology crews uncovered a nearly 50-foot-long remnant of the keel, frame, stern and flooring, estimated to be about one-third of the original hull. The wood did not decay, Baicy said, because once it was buried, oxygen could not reach it. …
“The find has archaeologists surprised and ecstatic. Unlike the warehouse, which was noted in old city records, there was no known documentation of the buried ship’s existence.”