During research work conducted on the wreck of the sailing ship HMS Erebus in 2022, divers brought 275 artifacts to the surface.
Research continues unabated on the wrecks of Sir John Franklin’s two ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, whose wrecks researchers discovered in 2014 and 2016. Both vessels set sail from Britain in 1845 on a mission to reach the Bering Sea from the Baffin Sea. The goal was never achieved, and all hearing of Sir Franklin and his ships was lost for centuries to come.
Today, both wrecks are a wonderful field of study for scientists. The harsh conditions have perfectly preserved all the objects, making the wrecks remarkable time capsules. Researchers are steadily uncovering the secrets of the Erebus and Terror, and more historic items are coming to the surface. In the completed 2022 research season, underwater archaeologists took up another 275 artifacts from the wreck of HMS Erebus. Among them were many unique items that delighted researchers.
Wrecks always have their secrets and are full of common items from the era that have grown into treasures over the years spent underwater. Sir Franklin’s ships are no different, filled with artifacts from the mid-19th century. You can see many of them in our archival footage from previous years.
This research season was no different, and archaeologists once again discovered and brought to the surface many wonderful items. Among them were intricate table covers, lieutenant’s epaulettes still stuck in the case, or eyeglass lenses. However, these did not turn out to be the most valuable treasure discovered by the researchers.
In one of the pantries deep inside the wreck, something unusual caught the attention of diver Ryan Harris….
This is probably the most unusual find this summer. We came across a foil and leather book cover, beautifully embossed and with pages inside. In fact, it has a quill pen still tucked inside the cover, like a journal you can write in and put on your bedside table before going to bed – Harris did not hide his delight.
At this point it is not known what the unusual item is. It is possible that it is just an inventory of products in the pantry. Nevertheless, the find is generating a lot of excitement among scientists and is currently in the laboratory. Specialists will try to extract as much as they can from it and perhaps hit upon a clue as to what this distinctive object is.
Unfortunately, the Arctic is a harsh and challenging land. That’s why each year researchers can spend only a dozen days on the wrecks. The 2022 research season lasted 11 days and during this time the team made as many as 56 dives. Although the temperatures are extremely cold, each dive lasted about two hours. This was possible because the divers used wetsuits heated by warm water pumped from the surface.
A total of 275 new artifacts were found and taken up on the wreck of the HMS Erebus. The steward’s pantry, where an unusual cover with notes was found, was the main focus of the researchers. Therefore, a significant portion of the excavated items were stoneware plates, platters and serving utensils that were part of the tableware.
Photo by Marc-Andre Bernier/Parks Canada
Diving is also about discovering wrecks and their unusual stories. You can learn about one of them in an article written by Michal Ogłoza. You will find it in the 20th issue DIVERS24 quarterly! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while you can purchase the printed version in our online store.
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