MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THE 2019 EXCAVATIONS

Published by Kathy Abbass on Thursday, 22nd August 2019 - 11:33PM

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Intermittent reports from Newport Harbor: the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, the Australian National Maritime Museum, and the SilentWorld Fndn

August 21: The first report - PREPARATION FOR 2019 THE EXCAVATION AT THE POTENTIAL ENDEAVOUR SITE

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM), and the Silentworld Foundation (SWF) have again partnered to continue the study of a Newport (RI) Harbor shipwreck that may be HMB Endeavour.

Following Capt. James Cook's first circumnavigation in the Endeavour, the Royal Navy sold the ship to a private owner, who renamed her the Lord Sandwich and sent her to carry British and Hessian troops to serve in the American Revolution. This vessel was among a fleet of 13 vessels scuttled in Newport Harbor during the days leading up to the Battle of Rhode Island. As noted elsewhere on this website, RIMAP began this search for this fleet in 1993, and in 2018 this combined research team identified one of these shipwrecks as the most likely to be that iconic vessel.

To find evidence to identify this site, the team will expose selected parts of the ship's structure, analyze and treat retrieved artifacts at the new conservation lab at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, RI, and identify timber and ballast samples. The hope is that these results will be consistent with the known history of the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour, a vessel built along the Yorkshire coast of England, that sailed around the world, that carried troops to Newport, and then was used as a prison ship in Newport harbor and scuttled there in 1778.

The 2019 study will begin on August 22 and continue through September 11. The team will issue progress reports on Tuesday August 27, on Tuesday September 3, and a summary of research results will be announced at a public event on Sunday September 8, details of that time and place to be arranged. An hour-long documentary about the 2019 research, sponsored by a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, will also be issued by the end of the year.

Support for the fieldwork and the new lab has come from RIMAP members and donors, grants from the ANMM and SWF private sponsors. To contribute to this project, please send donations to RIMAP at Box 1492, Newport, RI 02840, or use the PayPal button on the home page of this website. 

RIMAP Conservator Amelia Hammond shows US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse how artifacts and samples are studied at the triage tent on shore at Gurney's Resort on the Goat Island shore, near the excavation

August 28: The Second Report - IS IT ENDEAVOUR: A MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY DEMONSTRATION ON THE GROUNDS OF GURNEY'S RESORT, NEWPORT

The preliminary evaluation of artifacts and samples retrieved from the potential Endeavour site in Newport Harbor will be open for public observation at the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project temporary facility on the grounds of Gurney's Resort on Goat Island, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on August 28-30 and September 3-7, weather permitting, (but the exhibit is closed during the Labor Day Holiday). Gurney's has also installed a shore-side sign overlooking the shipwreck's location, and from there the public may also observe from a distance the RIMAP, Australian National Maritime Museum and Silentworld Foundation archaeological divers work to expose the ship's structure and retrieve the artifacts and samples that may determine if this shipwreck site in Newport's Outer Harbor could be the Endeavour Bark of Capt. Cook's first circumnavigation. This is a rare opportunity for the public to observe how the materials are handled from an archaeological site that may be the remains of one of the most important ships in the history of European exploration. Walk through Gurney's building to the northwest shore of Goat Island to see the artifacts and observe the divers.

For further information about how the team is hoping to identify the Newport Harbor site as the Endeavour, and to support this effort, please visit the websites at: rimap.org, sea.museum, and silentworldfoundation.org.au.

August 29: A Special Report - US SENATOR SHELDON WHITEHOUSE VISITS THE MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY DEMONSTRATION ON THE GROUNDS OF GURNEY'S RESORT, NEWPORT

In 1999, When Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was Rhode Island Attorney General, he was responsible for making sure that the transport fleet in Newport Harbor was protected by a combination of legal maneuvers, including the federal Abandoned Shipwreck Act, the law of finds, and especially salvage law. Therefore, these ships, and the Endeavour when she is identified, now belong to Rhode Island. Senator Whitehouse has had a continuing interest in RIMAP;s work, especially as we grow closer to identifying the remains of that iconic ship. 

RIMAP's on-shore location to conduct the preliminary study of the artifacts and samples retrieved from the excavations in the harbor has been open to the public during the excavation. On Thursday, August 29, Senator Whitehouse made a special stop to see the artifact management process and meet RIMAP's professional conservator, Amelia Hammond. 

The RIMAP site map of what could be seen of the shipwreck before the test excavation began.

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