Ship unearthed at World Trade Center

The decayed hull of a centuries old ship was unearthed at the World Trade Center construction site in New York, providing a glimpse into the history of Manhattan.

Archeologists take measurements of the wood hull of a ship, believed to be from the 18th century, at the World Trade Center site yesterday.
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NEW YORK // Workers at the World Trade Center site are excavating a 10-metre-long ship hull that apparently was used in the 18th century as part of the landfill that extended lower Manhattan into the Hudson River. Archaeologist Molly McDonald said she wanted to at least salvage some timbers; it was unclear if any large portions could be lifted intact. "We're mostly clearing it by hand because it's kind of fragile," she said, but construction equipment could be used later in the process. Ms McDonald and fellow archaeologist A. Michael Pappalardo were at the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks when the discovery was made on Tuesday morning. "We noticed curved timbers that a back hoe brought up," Ms McDonald said on Wednesday. "We quickly found the rib of a vessel and continued to clear it away and expose the hull over the last two days." The two archeologists work for AKRF, a firm hired to document artefacts discovered at the site. They called the find significant but said more study was needed to determine the age of the ship.

"We're going to send timber samples to a laboratory to do dendrochronology that will help us to get a sense of when the boat was constructed," said McDonald. Dendrochronology is the science that uses tree rings to determine dates and chronological order. A 45-kilogramme anchor was found a few yards from the ship hull, but they're not sure if it belongs to the ship. It's around a metre across, Ms McDonald said. The archaeologists are racing to record and analyse the vessel before the delicate wood, now exposed to air, begins to deteriorate. Many other kinds of antique debris have also been found. Mr Pappalardo said the discovery was indeed a good find, but added "we've found bottles and dishes, and that's exciting too. "I kept thinking of how closely it came to being destroyed," Mr Pappalardo said. * With agencies