Antique shipwreck has remained “frozen in time” after almost 200 years and leaves experts confused

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A team of archaeologists has discovered an ancient shipwreck that was left “frozen in time” after almost 200 years.

Divers videotaped the wreck during seven dives.

The ship is said to have left England almost 200 years ago and was discovered in 2016.

Sir John Franklin was leading a British voyage searching the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic.

At that time the crews left two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

But they were trapped in the ice near King William Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

The ships remained frozen for over a year, but by that point Franklin and 23 others perished.



Antique shipwreck “frozen in time”

Senior archaeologist Ryan Harris told National Geographic it was like the ship frozen in time.

He said: “The impression we got during the exploration is that of a ship that has only recently been abandoned by its crew and has apparently been forgotten over time.

“The ship is amazingly intact. You look at it and you can hardly believe that it is a 170 year old shipwreck.

“You just don’t see something like that often.”

Divers ventured into the interior of the ship using remote-controlled vehicles (ROVs).



Archaeologists discover shipwrecks after almost 200 years
Archaeologists discover shipwrecks after almost 200 years

The archaeologists couldn’t believe their eyes as they explored.

Mr. Harris said, “We were able to explore 20 cabins and compartments from room to room.

“The doors were all incredibly wide open.”

In the pictures, dinner plates are still in order on shelves, beds and desks.

He continued: “These sedimentary blankets, together with the cold water and the darkness, create an almost perfect anaerobic environment that is ideal for the preservation of delicate organic materials such as textiles or paper.



Antique shipwreck is still intact after almost 200 years
Antique shipwreck is still intact after almost 200 years

“There is a very high probability of finding items of clothing or documents, some of which may even be legible.”

The diving team managed to secure photos of more than 90% of the ships’ lower deck, including the living quarters.

In the captain’s cabin there were, among other things, closed card cabinets, tripods and thermometers.

The only part of the wreck that could not be explored was the captain’s sleeping quarters as the door was closed.



Ancient shipwrecks are still a mystery to archaeologists
Ancient shipwrecks are still a mystery to archaeologists

How the ship sank is still a mystery to Mr. Harris and his team.

He added: “There is no obvious cause for terror to go down.

“It was not crushed by the ice and there is no break in the hull.

“Yet it seems to have sunk quickly and suddenly and to have gently settled on the bottom. What happened?”

It is believed that the ship’s crew at the time tried to avoid ice death by trying to swim.



The evacuation process of the old shipwreck will take some time due to the cold water
The evacuation process of the old shipwreck will take some time due to the cold water

However, bones were found in Erebus Bay on King William Island that were analyzed and belonged to Warrant Officer John Gregory, an engineer on the Erebus.

They died in 1848.

The evacuation process will be slow due to the cold water, but Mr. Harris is sure they will uncover the secret of the wreck.

He said, “Either way, I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of the story.”

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