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Pieces of Eight


Tar River Vessel Investigated

ECU maritime studies professor Brad Rodgers is leading a team of investigators conducting preliminary archaeological research of a vessel discovered in the Tar River near Old Sparta.

Rodgers and his team will create a detailed map of the site, and analyze the hull structure and artifacts discovered in the vessel.

To complete the work, they lay face down in the river with masks and snorkels, recording the wreck on plastic sheets that float near their workstations.

“This is a pre-disturbance survey with no excavation and only recovery of diagnostic artifacts,” said Rodgers. “We have been working both in the archives and on site for about six weeks.”

Preliminary analysis tentatively identified the vessel as a possible pole boat of the early 19th century, a rare vessel never before studied in archaeological context. Rodgers said the fasteners of this vessel, nails and treenails, would tend to verify the early date of this wreck.

“The wreck is a fairly large vessel for this far up the river at 85-feet long by 14-feet in beam,” Rodgers said. “Virtually no historic mention is made in any of the area newspapers and histories of an early vessel wrecking near Old Sparta from the first half of the 19th century.”

The crash site, visible from the Highway 42 bridge near Old Sparta, has been creating excitement within the community for years.

This page originally appeared in the Aug. 29, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/Arch.cfm.