Study of the Crew Members of the Hunley Proceeding
January 25, 2002

Scientists are concentrating on the remains of The Hunley Crew in an attempt to identify them so that they can be laid to rest. Particular attention will go to  the artifacts that contain human remains such as shoes and textiles.

Eight pairs of leather shoes contain bones and are being documented.  By conducting x-rays, photographing, and sketching the artifacts scientist are able to record the positioning of the bones and the state of preservation of each shoe. Removing the shoes was difficult as most were concreted to the sub's hull. Some  of the shoes were well preserved but most were severely deteriorated.

"The ultimate goal of the archaeological work is to record as much information as possible before the scientists remove the bones permanently from the shoes. Even sampling sediment inside the shoes could give us insight that will be used by geologists or palynologists (people who study pollen) to figure out the burial conditions of the sub soon after the sinking," said Paul Mardikian, Senior Conservator.

So far three shoes have been CAT scanned at the Medical University of South Carolina. Mardikian says the CAT scans are an incredible step in looking at the shoes and give a three-dimensional look, something that is lacking in a simple x-ray. Five more shoes will be scanned at MUSC today.

Textile fibers from a knitted wool sock were found in the first two shoes that were excavated, and it is likely that more textiles will be found as the work progresses.

"Osteological data is critical, therefore the positioning of the bones (sometimes still impressively articulated) will be a premium source of information for the forensic team. In addition there is the likelihood that we could find soft tissue, as some samples have already been collected and will be analyzed," said Mardikian.

The forensic team including Dr. Doug Owsley, Head Physical Anthropologist and Dr. Bob Mann, a hand and foot bone specialist both from the Smithsonian Institution will arrive next month to study information collected so far and to pursue the forensic work on the crew of the Hunley.

"The physical laying out of the human remains of the Hunley crew should start around the week of February 4th. X-rays indicate the presence of a pocket watch and binoculars on Lt. Dixon," said Senator Glenn McConnell, Chairman of the Hunley Commission. "Further, we should be getting closer to ascertaining whether or not the apparent clasp we see in the x-ray is part of a diary or logbook. If so, the Hunley may speak from the past in words instead of through clues," said Sen. McConnell. "This part of the project is exciting as it will require new scientific techniques," said Dr. Robert Neyland, Project Director.

Warren Lasch, Chairman of the Friends of the Hunley, expressed excitement over the direction of the scientific mission. "We will now put dimension into the remains as we discover the height, size and age of the crew members," he said. "We will put more than a face on the crew," he added.

Sen. McConnell said that preliminary studies indicate this crew is probably older and more diverse in age than earlier thought. The youngest is approximately between the ages of 17-20, and the oldest is in his 40's. The two men behind Lt. Dixon appear to be seaman or dressed in Navy clothing. Archaeologists are unclear at this time about the dress of the fourth crewmember. The fifth man appears to be Confederate artillery, perhaps Carlson. One of the next two crewmen appears to be a seaman, and the other is questionable. The eighth man with the 7th Connecticut medal appears to be in civilian clothes. While this paints a clearer picture of whom these crewman might be, it raises greater questions.

 


Used with permission of The Post and Courier and Charleston.Net

 


Hit Counter