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Archaeologists have excavated a 1,200-year-old fishing boat from Lake Mendota

American archaeologists have excavated a 1,200-year-old dugout canoe from the waters of Lake Mendota. The dugout was accidentally discovered by a pair of divers who were exploring the body of water. Tamara Thomsen and Mallory Dragt went on one of those dives, like many. No big goal, just for fun and to make the most
Published: November 4, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 23:33
Archaeologists have excavated a 1,200-year-old fishing boat from Lake Mendota

American archaeologists have excavated a 1,200-year-old dugout canoe from the waters of Lake Mendota. The dugout was accidentally discovered by a pair of divers who were exploring the body of water.

Tamara Thomsen and Mallory Dragt went on one of those dives, like many. No big goal, just for fun and to make the most of their free time. They chose the waters of Lake Mendota in Wisconsin as their destination. Equipped with dry suits and DPV diving scooters, they went underwater to meet their adventure. At the time, they never imagined that they would come across a twelve-century-old canoe.

Divers and archaeologists excavate the dugout

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June 2021 when they both noticed something unusual underwater. The divers working every day at Diversions Scuba dive centre took a long time to figure out what they were dealing with. Was it an ordinary beam sticking out of the bottom of the lake? Or maybe something more unusual? Something worth taking a closer look at…

After a brief visual inspection, Tamara Thomsen rightly concluded that the object was more than just a log. Her guess was confirmed by tests carried out a few weeks later. A carbon isotope test confirmed that the 4.5-metre-long canoe is estimated to be 1,200 years old.

So what was supposed to be a simple beam turned out to be an antique chisel! In addition, the oldest one that archaeologists have ever discovered in Wisconsin. The dugout canoe made from a single tree trunk was the work of the indigenous people who inhabited this area of North America.

Excavated dugout canoe

It became clear that such monument could not remain underwater. Its extraction with divers was organised by members of the Wisconsin Historical Society. The raising of the dugout canoe from the bottom was a great event for the local community, and the journey of the dugout canoe to the shore was watched by crowds of onlookers.

According to the information given to the press by those involved in the excavation of the canoe, the earliest it will go on display is in about two years’ time. Before museum visitors can admire it, it will first go through a long journey in the conservation workshop. Specialists in this field will carry out a number of painstaking processes to protect the canoe from destruction.

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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