Update by Della Scott-Ireton, and Donny Hamilton, Texas A&M
The first load of artifacts successfully made the journey to the deck of Toisa Vigilant! The captain very skillfully maneuvered the ship so the ocean swells were blocked and the lifting basket could be hauled aboard against the side of the vessel, minimizing the basket’s tendency to swing around. The sediment used to pack and pad the ceramics and bottles worked like a charm and all were undamaged. The conservation team has taken custody of the artifacts and begun the lab process.
Now that we can get a closer look at the artifacts they are even more interesting. One sandclock was recovered – the wooden endpieces are totally degraded and missing but the glass is beautifully preserved. The sandclock is one of at least six we’ve located on the site, but the first to be recovered. A large stoneware jug was discovered to have a lovely flower design etched into the side; its handle has been broken but it otherwise is in perfect condition. The several dark green glass bottles brought to the surface probably originally contained wine and rum, and some still have their corks in place. A blue bottle is very curious – the blue coloration likely is caused by oxidation but the intense color is quite unusual.
A variety of creamware ceramics have been recovered, including a plate, a deep serving dish and its fitted lid with a slot for a ladle, and a desert cup called a pot de crème. The creamware seems to suggest a slightly earlier date for this shipwreck than we originally hypothesized – probably 1770 to 1790. We also are developing a better understanding of the weapons chest that is still in situ. Check out the Artifacts page for a description of what we hope to learn from the weapons, as well as a photo and drawing of the chest showing individual pieces.