domingo, 15 de maio de 2011

Archaeology professor to dedicate pirate shipwreck as 'Living Museum of the Sea'

By BRITTANY TEMPEST | IDS

Anthropology doctoral student Fritz Hanselmann documents items found in Captain Kidd's shipwreck.(COURTESY PHOTO , (HERALD TIMES COURTESY PHOTO|IDS) Buy Photos

Three years ago, the shipwreck Quedagh Merchant, which was abandoned by the scandalous 17th century pirate Captain William Kidd, was discovered.

This summer, the underwater site will be dedicated as a “Living Museum of the Sea” by IU researcher and archaeologist Charles Beeker and the government of the Dominican Republic.

The dedication will take place off the shore of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic on May 23. The date was selected because it is the 310th anniversary of Kidd’s hanging in London for his ‘crimes of piracy.’

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded IU $200,000 to turn the Captain Kidd shipwreck site and two nearby existing underwater preserves into “Living Museums of the Sea.”

Here, cultural discoveries protect precious corals and other threatened sea life in the surrounding reef systems under the supervision and support of the Dominican Republic’s Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS).

The Underwater Science team from the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, led by Beeker, has been working to preserve, analyze and document the Kidd shipwreck since its discovery, which made worldwide headlines.

This museum, resting in less than 10 feet of water and just 70 feet from shore, will give divers the opportunity to explore the ship remains, including several anchors and dozens of cannons. Many different types of sea life have made the shipwreck their home.

Several more traditional museums will benefit from artifacts that are on loan to IU by the Dominican government, according to the press release from HPER.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has brought this underwater mystery to visitors in its new permanent exhibit, National Geographic Treasures of the Earth.

Dominican Republic authorities authorized Beeker to bring the only cannon recovered from the shipwreck to the Children’s Museum for five years of study and conservation. Together, the Children’s Museum and Beeker received a $1 million grant from Eli Lilly and Company Foundation to support this project and to search for and recover artifacts from other historically significant ships that are believed to be in the Caribbean.

“Lilly Foundation will provide five years of archaeological field investigations on three sites: the Quedagh Merchant, the 1725 Spanish Galleon Begoña and, most importantly, the 1495 Lost Fleet of Columbus,” Beeker stated in an e-mail sent from the Dominican Republic.

Historians disagree on whether Kidd was actually a pirate or the opposite: a privateer — someone who captured pirates.

“Captain Kidd captured the Armenian-owned Quedagh Merchant, which today is the only discovered pirate ship in the Caribbean, but more importantly my archaeological investigations document this as a unique example of 17th century ship-building technology from West India with hull construction described by Kidd in 1701, and documented by IU on the remains of the site,” Beeker said.

“The archival records and the scientific archaeological investigations match and make this one of the most significant discoveries for this time period.”

Kidd was convicted of piracy and murder and charged in a sensational London trial, according to the History Channel website. He was hanged and his body was ‘gibbeted’ — left to hang in an iron cage — over the River Thames for 20 years as a warning to other pirates.

While the jury is still out on whether or not Captain Kidd was a pirate or a pirate hunter, the discovery and dedication of the ship is a great step forward in the preservation of the history of the pirates of the Caribbean.

Fonte: http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=81554 (11/05/2011)

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