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News: USA
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An archaeologist waters down a fragment of an 18th-century vessel that was used in creating a wharf. It was one of three ships discovered last month in Alexandria, Va., during excavations for the construction of a residential complex. Photo Credit: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Three ships used as landfill in 18-century Virginia have been found

Another ship of the time had been found nearby

In Old Town Alexandria archaeologists have unearthed the remains of three colonial-era ships which were used as landfill at the time, near the site where another ship had been discovered in 2015.

The first of the four ships had been discovered during construction works for a new hotel. It had been constructed in Massachusetts after 1741 and after about half a century it was used as landfill. The city at the time expanded its real estate into the shoreline and the practice of sinking ships along with bulkhead wharves and filling them with soil to create more land was common at the time. The original cove, called Point Lumley was thus turned into land that supported various commercial buildings, such as warehouses and mills. The foundation of a flour mill has been discovered at the site.

Earlier this year, in late March, archaeologists found three more ships from the 18th century near the first. They were buried very close to one another and excavations revealed that various artefacts and archaeological items were also buried along, such as animal bones, pieces of ceramics, bottles, pins, jewellery, Spanish, French and Irish coins, as well as tokens from London’s Newgate Prison. Overall about 100,000 artefacts have been unearthed so far.

The discovery was made at a another construction site along the waterfront. One of the ships which is still partially buried seems to be about 46 feet long while the other two, along the east side of the construction site are about 12.5 feet wide. One of the three ships has already been documented, excavated and dismantled. Its timbers have been stabilised in tanks of water to prevent deterioration. The other two ships are still partially buried and archaeological work will soon begin on them as well. One of the ships is thought to have been an ocean vessel and the other two river crafts.

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