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Sunken Treasure: Divers Recover Artifacts from 1845 Shipwreck That Mysteriously Sank Years After Setting Sail

Researchers Find Artifacts From Mysterious Shipwreck in Canada
Source: Parks Canada

Researchers in Canada uncovered several artifacts while investigating the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror last summer.

Jan. 29 2024, Published 1:07 p.m. ET

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During a summer expedition at a national historic site in Nunavut, Canada, researchers successfully conducted an underwater search of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, recovering a variety of artifacts.

Over a 12-day period encompassing 68 dives, the team excavated items that provided valuable insights into the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition, which mysteriously sank three years after setting sail. The recovered artifacts included naval technology, scientific instruments and everyday life items from the vessels.

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In a news release, Parks Canada disclosed the findings, which included a parallel ruler, an intact thermometer, a leather book cover and a fishing rod with a brass wheel discovered in an area believed to be Second Lt. Henry Dundas Le Vesconte's officer's cabin.

In the captain's pantry, researchers uncovered a leather shoe or boot bottom, storage jars and a sealed pharmaceutical bottle. Noteworthy items were also found in Third Lt. James Fairholme's cabin, including unidentified fossils, supplementing previous discoveries from a 2022 search.

In the forecastle area, presumed to be where most of the crew resided, the team unearthed artifacts such as pistols, military items, footwear, medicine bottles and coins, all found inside a seaman's chest.

Following their recovery, the artifacts will be studied in Ottawa and undergo conservation treatment before being displayed at the Nattilik Heritage Center in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.

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The researchers also captured thousands of high-resolution photos to create accurate three-dimensional models documenting changes at the site over time. Parks Canada highlighted their dedication to unraveling mysteries, expressing excitement about their ongoing work in a Facebook post.

The cause of the shipwrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror remains unclear, prompting researchers and historians to rely on artifacts and oral history to piece together the events leading to the expedition's tragic end.

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In 1845, the ships, led by Captain Sir John Franklin, embarked on a mission to chart a passage around the top of North America but were lost off the Canadian coast three years later, CBS News reported.

As the archaeological efforts continue, interest in the mysterious wreck grows. Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, emphasized the importance of Parks Canada and Inuit partners in retrieving pieces of the puzzle, shedding light on the captivating events of the expedition.

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