More Henrietta Marie Artifacts Recovered
In Accordance with
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary permit #2001-046
Last May and June the MFMHS archaeological team, along with the RPM Nautical Foundation, relocated and uncovered the wooden, lower-stern, hull remains of the
Henrietta Marie. During this excavation many artifacts were discovered. Because the research permit for this phase of the project did not include the recovery of artifacts, these pieces were photographed and inventoried at the time of their discovery, and reburied together at a marked location.
At the conclusion of the 2001 field research season, permission was sought from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to recover the artifacts. On November 26th the recovery permit arrived, but winter weather delayed its execution. Finally,
on January 27th of this year, a break in the weather came. Divers Corey Malcom, Steve Sisk, Cristian Swanson and Brian Blanco, aboard the RPM Nautical Foundation's RV ROBO, successfully located and recovered the objects.
They are as follows:
HM 2001-1) Ivory Elephant's Tusk
HM 2001-2) Iron Shackle Loop
HM 2001-3) Tubular Glass "Bugle" Beads (4)
HM 2001-4) Glass "Seed" Beads (251),
209 - Translucent Royal Blue, 117 - Opaque Light Blue, 25 - Clear
HM 2001-5) Tin-glazed Earthenware Sherd
HM 2001-6) Bone Fragment
HM 2001-7) Glass Square Bottle Base (Small)
HM 2001-8) Glass Square Bottle Base (Large)
HM 2001-9) Wooden Parral Truck
HM 2001-10) Wooden Pail or Tub Stave (Wide)
HM 2001-11) Wooden Pail or Tub Stave (Narrow)
HM 2001-12) Lead Shot, Small (4)
Virtually all of these pieces had been displaced during earlier excavations to the site in 1972 and 1984, when the hull was previously uncovered. Even with this, they are still able to provide an interesting cross-section of the material culture of a slave-trading ship. The shackle loop, of course, is the piece most emblematic of the slave trade, having once been used
to forcibly restrain a person. The elephant's tusk also came from the Guinea coast and reflects a trade in ivory, in addition to humans, from the African continent. Two tapered wooden staves look to have come from a pail, or tub, and as such could have conceivably been parts of
bucket-like toilets, or similarly-styled feeding tubs for the Africans.
A large number of glass seed beads are mostly some shade of blue, but including some colorless ones as well, - a radically different pattern than earlier recoveries where 80% were either green or yellow. This new discovery is going to necessitate a reassessment in earlier interpretations of this particular category of trade good aboard the ship. Also, four tubular "bugle" beads were found, where only one was in the collection before. An element of the ship's rigging, a wood parral truck, was part of a larger assembly used in the raising and
lowering of yards up and down a mast. Other items seem to reflect the lifestyle of the crew - glass bottles for drink, and a glazed earthenware ceramic dish or container. The origin of a bone fragment has not yet been determined, but for now is assumed to have originated from the ship's food-stores.
The artifacts are now beginning to be conserved, with each type being assessed for the best method to do so. Drawings are being made of the unique pieces, and preliminary interpretations of their functions and purposes are being both expanded and refined. The items in this group must be looked at individually, and as a part of the larger collection from the ship. What is important to note is that even 30 years after its discovery, the Henrietta Marie is continuing to give up important new information about our maritime past.
This work has been conducted under the auspices of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary permit #2001-046
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