The city of Alexandria, VA, located just outside Washington, D.C., kicked off a major redevelopment plan along the city's Potomac River waterfront in the fall of 2015, and it's already provided a boon to an unexpected group: archaeologists.
While digging the foundation for a new hotel on the water, construction crews ran across something rare: a Revolutionary War-era ship.
According to WUSA9, a Virginia CBS affiliate, "archeologists are racing the wrecking ball" as they work quickly to secure the site before construction resumes.
“It’s very rare. This almost never happens,” Dan Baicy, field director for Thunderbird Archeology, the firm monitoring the site for historic evidence during construction, told the Washington Post. “In 15 years that I’ve done this work, I’ve never run into this kind of preservation in an urban environment where there’s so much disturbance.”
It's believed to be a military vessel or cargo ship.
According to the Post, Baicy's team was joined by naval archaeologists Monday to disassemble the ship and start moving it. Baicy told the paper that the wood was in such good condition because it was not touched by oxygen while buried.
Local historians like city archeologist Francine Bromberg told WUSA9 that it was possible that more ships would be found during the redevelopment process as it was possible that in the late 1700s "some of Alexandria's earliest residents scuttled [ships] to give the town better access to the deep channel of the Potomac" that approaches the city's shoreline near where the ship was found.
The funding for the excavation is being handled by Carr Hospitality, the company building the hotel, so it's likely that the diggers would get the chance to clear the site of everything of historical value. The city will handle all other costs, which Bromberg told the Post would require special fundraising.
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