Hunley Still Holds Treasures
HUNLEY PROJECT UPDATE
HUNLEY STILL HOLDS TREASURES
July 25, 2001
During the summer months archaeologists continue to work on the H. L. Hunley. X-rays have been conducted on the submarine, showing there are artifacts, possibly personal effects of the crew stowed underneath the wooden bench. Dr. Robert Neyland, Project Director says, "If the crew carried any personal items onboard the sub, the bench would be the likely place because of the cramped conditions." The x-rays showed a small glass medicine bottle and a leather strap. The strap is lying on the top of the bench, goes underneath and is concreted to the side of the hull. Two tin canteens were also located underneath the bench. Archaeologists say that previous canteens removed from the sub were extremely fragile, and that it was like "excavating through wet paper", and that's why the canteens remain in the sub. A metal pipe was discovered and believed to be connected to a rubber hose from the bellows and runs under the bench. Scientists aren't sure how far back it runs, but speculate that the pipe carried air back to the stern for air circulation for the crew. Senator Glenn McConnell, Chairman of the Hunley Commission, expressed optimism that the x-ray results confirm our belief that the area inside the sub, under the crew bench is relic rich with the personal effects of the men of the Hunley. Sen. McConnell says, "The excavation in the fall will be comparable to reading a good mystery book with each day being a new page revealing more about the characters and uncovering more of the clues to solving the mystery of what happened on the final voyage. Soldiers of that time wore haversacks and canvas bags on a sling in which they carried their personal possessions like diaries, pictures, and utensils. The odds are that this wold be the area where they would have stored these bags during their service on the Hunley." "It is our hope that we will be able to describe what each crewman looked like, and, based upon what they carried onboard the Hunley, a little bit about their personalities. The Hunley is a time machine that will truly enable us to relive history," said Warren Lasch, Chairman of Friends of the Hunley.
The excavation of the H. L. Hunley will resume in October. Then, archaeologists will x-ray and possibly start removing the artifacts from underneath the bench. Dr. Neyland says it will be a more difficult task than earlier in the excavation because of the sediment. The area under the bench is heavily concreted and the sediment has a lot of iron in it, making it harder and more difficult to remove.