December 7, 2001

The H. L. Hunley archaeological and conservation team has successfully completed the excavation of the central compartment of the submarine. "We are now spending some time drawing and photographing internal features, and finalizing our documentation of the central compartment," said Maria Jacobsen, Senior Archaeologist. "The completion of the excavation provides us with the pieces of what many consider to be the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle," said Warren Lasch, Chairman, Friends of the Hunley.
There were a number of exciting discoveries made on the very last days of the excavation in the area beneath the forward conning tower. Two pieces of a thin (5.6 mm in diameter) glass tube were found concreted to the submarine's hull near Lt. George Dixon's post. Without a doubt these are the remains of the submarine's depth gauge. At this point, we cannot say much more about this exciting find, because the conservators have determined that it is not possible to safely remove the pieces and study them just yet. But we will be able to do so at a later date. Studying these pieces may provide important clues for understanding what happened to the submarine and its crew. "It will be important to learn how the damage occurred to the depth gauge. Was it broken after the sinking or before? This may tell us the amount of the force of the impact from the explosion that hit the Hunley moments after the torpedo detonated. Also, the deeper we go without finding the remains of the eyepiece, the greater the odds that the front view port may have been damaged on the night of the attack setting in motion the events that led to the sinking. Also, the importance of the objects contained in the blocks of sediment will become increasingly important over the long term, as artifacts targets become scarcer and scarcer within," said Senator Glenn McConnell, Chairman of the Hunley Commission.
Next to the glass pieces, archaeologists found a concentration of coarse fibers (or animal hair) that may be the remains of a degraded cushion. Adjacent to the forward bulkhead and concreted to the bottom of the submarine are two heavily encrusted metallic artifacts. They may be tools, but we cannot confirm this before we have x-rayed the features. There are still some heavily concreted artifacts in the submarine that will be removed by the conservators at a later date. They include some of the earlier discovered canteens that are very fragile and are concreted to the hull beneath the wooden bench.


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



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