Raising the Hunley: Archaeology Meets Technology

„No one knows how it felt to be a Civil War soldier crammed into the submersible iron cylinder called the H.L. Hunley. But Robert Neyland can guess that physical comfort was not a priority. On its final voyage, eight men, seated elbow to elbow, strained to crank a manual propeller, moving the submarine through the currents of South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor. A ninth man stood hunchbacked, steering the vessel. The ceiling was no higher than 1.4 m above the floor, the walls no more than 1.1 m apart (Figure 1). “The walls were probably sweating from condensation,” said Neyland, the U.S. Navy’s chief underwater archaeologist. “If anyone got sea sick, there was no escape.” Neyland hopes to take the guesswork out of the story of the Hunley, its construction, and why it sank in 1864. He is project manager of a diverse team of scientists, archaeologists, and conservators who are using groundbreaking technology to investigate the submarine, which was rescued from the floor of Charleston Harbor in August 2000. The experts are poised to study everything from the rivets of the sub to the DNA of its crew. “It’s a great scientific mystery to solve, applying all the modern techniques of science,” Neyland said.“

Autor: Maureen Byko

JOM

Ausgabe 53.3, 2001

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