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Author Topic: LOST PORT ROYAL - Jamaica  (Read 5488 times)
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« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2009, 11:20:56 am »

Sin city sunk under sea

One of the advantages of marine or nautical archeology is that, in many instances, catastrophic events send a ship or its cargo to the bottom, freezing a moment in time.

As one archeologist phrases it, in shipwrecks -- and mammoth mud slides and volcanoes -- "people haven't had time to clean up." That may be bad luck for the victims. But it's a bona fide bonanza for archeologists.

One such catastrophe that has helped nautical archeologists was the earthquake that destroyed part of the city of Port Royal, Jamaica. Once known as the "Wickedest City on Earth" for its sheer concentration of pirates, prostitutes and rum, Port Royal is now famous for another reason:

"It is the only sunken city in the New World," according to Donny L. Hamilton of Texas A&M University's Institute of Nautical Archeology.


Port Royal began its watery journey to the Academy Awards of nautical archeology on the morning of June 7, 1692, when, in a matter of minutes, a massive earthquake sent nearly 33 acres of the city -- buildings, streets, houses, and their contents and occupants -- careening into Kingston Harbor. Today, that underwater metropolis encompasses roughly 13 acres, at depths ranging from a few inches to 40 feet.

For nearly ten years, Hamilton and his colleagues, many of them students, explored the buildings of this sunken colonial city, cataloging the artifacts and structures, encountering the remains of the human victims, and sorting through the detritus of everyday life.

"To me, it's like walking through your home town," explains Hamilton. "I probably know more about these people who lived in 1692 in Port Royal than I do about my next door neighbor."
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