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Jacobean 'Titanic' discovered by archaeologists

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Golethia Pennington
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« on: July 09, 2008, 02:44:32 am »

Jacobean 'Titanic' discovered by archaeologists
By Graham Tibbetts
Last Updated: 6:43PM BST 01/07/2008

The wreck of a richly-jewelled 17th century ship has been discovered in the English Channel.
Marine archaeologists who explored the 600-ton vessel off Dorset believe it may have been as luxurious in its day as the Titanic.

Among the treasures they have retrieved is a statue of a merman whose eye sockets would have held precious stones.

The 4.5ft wooden figure was one of a number of statues that would have adorned the stern of the vessel.

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At 130ft long, the oak-timbered ship would have been one of the largest of its kind on the seas when it sank in around 1620.

Its identity is not known but it is likely to be British or Dutch.

The wreck was found half a mile from the Sandbanks peninsula during recent dredging work of Poole harbour.

Marine archaeologists have carried out a series of dives on the vessel, which lies in 23ft of water.

They have found seven iron cannon and indications of barrels of cargo, as well as pottery fragments, a copper skillet and a silver spoon.

It is unclear whether it was a warship or cargo vessel.

The study is being led by David Parham, who is preserving the merman statue in a paddling pool of fresh water at his home.

"It would have been a very big vessel for its day. The statue was on the outer ship, probably the stern, staring out and we believe it was part of a collection rather than an individual piece," said Mr Parham, a senior lecturer in marine archaeology at Bournemouth University.

"The whole vessel would have been a spectacular work or art.

"It was a sign of prestige and wealth."

He added: "It would not have been a million miles from a 17th century version of the Titanic, although the Titanic was ornate for the passengers and not for those on the outside."

There are no maritime records of the sinking and experts are unsure how the three-masted ship came to founder.

There was a naval battle off Portland at about the same time and one theory is that it sank in sheltered waters after being hit. Britain was at war with the Spanish, French and Dutch at the time, Mr Parham said.

X-rays of the statue of the merman have revealed its lower half is being eaten away by boreworms that are usually found in the Mediterranean.

This is possible evidence of global warming and is an ominous sign for similar wrecks still lying off England's south coast.

The statue has been declared to the Receiver of Wreck which has one year to trace its owner. After that it becomes property of the Crown and it is hoped it will then be given to the Poole Museum.'Titanic'-discovered-by-archaeologists.html
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