Deciphering an Underwater Jigsaw Puzzle
Portion of Site 1 site plan sketch before final interpretation showing central concentration of debris (Photo courtesy of Program in Maritime Studies, ECU).
When conducting an archaeological survey of a ship breaking site, it is important to consider the extent to which the remains of one vessel have intermingled with the remains of others. This is especially important at Meyer’s Wharf where ship breaking occurred within limited space, and large areas of vessel structure have co-mingled and built upon one another. The accumulated material may cause confusion for the archaeologist, who struggles to identify which features belong to each ship, and may ultimately be unsuccessful. Though challenging, this submerged jigsaw puzzle offers the potential for multiple interpretations of a site and helps expose new research avenues to explore.