‘Buried Ships’ Exhibit Shows Alexandria’s 18th Century Past 


Visitors to Alexandria’s waterfront can catch a glimpse of town’s historical past with a brand new windowfront exhibit, The Buried Ships of Robinson Landing. This exhibit from Alexandria Archaeology, to be unveiled on April 6, will current fashions of three buried ships that archaeologists excavated from the realm years in the past. 

The History 

In 2018, archaeologists discovered remnants of the hulls of three ships underground at Robinson Landing, together with many different historic artifacts.  

Archaeologists mapping buried ship remnants
In 2018, archaeologists found three historic ships within the floor underneath right this moment’s Robinson Landing improvement. Each ship remnant was mapped earlier than elimination. (Photo courtesy Office of Historic Alexandria)

“They possible date to the late 18th, perhaps early nineteenth century,” says Eleanor Breen, metropolis archaeologist. “These ships have been used as landfill, so that they’re not shipwrecks that you’d sometimes discover on the backside of a river or the underside of the ocean, however as a substitute, they have been repurposed on the finish of their crusing lives as a part of the extension of Alexandria’s shoreline out into the deeper channel of the Potomac River.”  

The ships have been possible utilized by retailers bringing items to and from Alexandria’s ports, Breen says. One of them is even regarded as “the biggest 18th century service provider ship that’s ever been archaeologically recovered,” she says. 

This wasn’t Alexandria’s first discovery of this type. An analogous excavation of 1 ship occurred in 2015 on the website of the Hotel Indigo.  

Archaeologists at Robinson Landing site
Archaeologists eliminated every timber from the positioning for additional documentation and preservation. (Photo courtesy Office of Historic Alexandria)

When archaeologists discovered the hulls on the Robinson Landing website, researchers rigorously scanned and documented every bit earlier than transferring them offsite for protected storage.  

Currently, the hulls are saved in an unlikely place — underwater. Archaeologists have positioned them within the backside of a pond in Ben Brenman Park, a mid-term storage resolution that may preserve them protected till further analysis or conservation efforts can happen. 

The Exhibit 

This new exhibit, placed on by Alexandria Archaeology and the Robinson Landing Property Owners Association, exhibits scale fashions of the three vessels, demonstrating what they’d have appeared like of their time. It’s on the nook of the Strand and Pioneer Mill Way, on the identical block the place the vessels have been found.  

You received’t want tickets or a reservation to see them — the exhibit is designed to be considered from the sidewalk any time, full with indicators explaining the historical past of the ships, their excavation, and the archaeologists’ work. 

Buried Ships of Robinson Landing
‘Buried Ships of Robinson Landing’ exhibit opens April 6. (Photo courtesy Office of Historic Alexandria)

“The concept is basically to point out guests and residents of Alexandria how archaeologists do the work that we do, and that’s taking a partial piece of the previous that’s excavated from the bottom and decoding historical past from that,” Breen says.  

Using scans that the mission staff made through the excavation, archaeologists made 3D  printed fashions of every of the ships’ hulls. The the rest of the ships are represented with wire, based mostly on what archaeologists consider they’d have appeared like.  

“It’s essential to notice that the archaeologists discovered items of the ship, they didn’t discover a entire ship within the floor, and it’s from these items that we’ve extrapolated or interpreted what they’d seem like once they sailed,” Breen says.  

There will likely be a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, April 6, with archaeologists and metropolis officers readily available to speak in regards to the ships and Alexandria’s historical past.  

This exhibit is a part of the rollout of Alexandria’s 275th-anniversary celebration, which formally begins with a proclamation from Mayor Justin Wilson that day.  

For those that need to study extra about archaeology within the metropolis, the Alexandria Archaeology Museum is close by within the Torpedo Factory Art Center. A scale mannequin of the ship from the Hotel Indigo website is on show within the Alexandria Archaeology Museum.  

Feature picture courtesy Office of Historic Alexandria

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