Texas A&M University to Conserve Alexandria’s 18th-Century Ship

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Texas A&M University to Conserve Alexandria’s 18th-Century Ship

Ship Begins One Last Voyage Before Returning to its Final Port

2017 Ship DigThe City of Alexandria has awarded Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) Conservation Research Laboratory in College Station, Texas the contract to conserve the 18th century ship discovered by archaeologists during construction of the Hotel Indigo on the City’s historic waterfront. Through the multi-year process of conservation, the ship’s wooden timbers will be preserved for future generations to study and appreciate. TAMU’s Lead Conservator, Dr. Peter Fix, said “we are looking forward to partnering in the stewardship of this artifact.”   

In January 2016, archaeologists from Thunderbird Archaeology, a division of Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., excavated the 50-foot-long fragment of the ship’s hull in coordination with Alexandria Archaeology. Thunderbird was hired by Hotel Indigo developers Carr City Centers to conduct the investigations as part of the City’s Archaeological Protection Code. Since then, the ship’s timbers have been stabilized and stored in tanks of water in a City facility awaiting professional conservation.

Operating under TAMU’s Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, the Conservation Research Laboratory is one of the oldest continuously operated conservation laboratories that deals primarily with archaeological material from shipwrecks and other underwater sites. The laboratory has undertaken the monumental task of treating all material recovered from the Belle, a 17th century French ship that wrecked off the Texas coast in 1686. The Belle went on exhibit last year at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas. The laboratory is also currently conserving the remains of an 18th century ship uncovered during excavations at the World Trade Center.

A recent study of the tree rings (called dendrochronology) by Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory revealed that the ship’s timbers were felled in Massachusetts sometime after 1741. For the latest news and events related to the Alexandria ship, visit alexandriaarchaeology.org. To ensure the preservation of the fragile wood timbers, Save Our Ship by donating today!

The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. To request a reasonable accommodation, e-mail archaeology@alexandriava.gov or call 703.746.4399, or Virginia Relay 711.