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X-rays help uncover secrets of wrecks

The use of X-ray equipment will help underwater archaeologists to carry out detailed analysis of objects from historic shipwrecks and other archaeological sites. This will be made possible by a £150,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation to Historic England in the form of a Grant. Specialised high-power, high-resolution X-ray equipment offers exceptional potential for analysing
Published: July 20, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:23
X-rays help uncover secrets of wrecks

The use of X-ray equipment will help underwater archaeologists to carry out detailed analysis of objects from historic shipwrecks and other archaeological sites. This will be made possible by a £150,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation to Historic England in the form of a Grant.

Specialised high-power, high-resolution X-ray equipment offers exceptional potential for analysing sites covered with thick concretions or hard concrete-like matter. This will enable researchers to obtain images with a much higher level of detail, without the risk of damaging the sites under investigation.

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X-ray archaeological find from a sunken wreck divers24.pl

The funding raised will enable Historic England to replace and upgrade equipment which is at the centre of archaeological research, analysis and conservation work.

Deposits accumulated over centuries often irrevocably close off access to many artefacts and monuments found, or force the use of methods which carry a serious risk of damaging them. Thanks to the use of X-ray equipment of the appropriate class, it is possible to take precise and detailed photographs, allowing for the creation of documentation of the studied objects.

artefact from the wreck x-ray divers24.co.uk The equipment, to be housed at Historic England’s Scientific and Archaeological Analysis Centre at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth, will make a significant contribution to the research work carried out by HE and collaborating partners at the centre.

“With this technology we will be able to analyse, preserve and better understand many more objects recovered from historic shipwrecks or excavated from archaeological sites. We are very grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for their support.” – said Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England

Research with the new equipment will include hugely exciting projects such as the scanning and analysis of artefacts recovered from the Dutch East India Company shipwreck, the Rooswijk, which is under special protection. The project is a collaboration between RCE (The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands) and Historic England.

The Rooswijk sank in an extremely treacherous place known as Goodwin Sands, near Kent, in January 1740. The ship was bound for Batavia (today’s Jakarta) with a cargo of goods for trade and a cargo of silver coins. Many of the objects are covered with a thick layer of sediment, which will certainly be an ideal test for the new equipment.

Historic England representatives have made no secret of their delight and are confident that the new equipment will place their centre at the forefront of facilities specialising in traditional X-ray radiography for many years to come.

Source: Historic England

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Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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