Few things stir the imagination more than the notion of buried or sunken treasure.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the HMS Victory had been found, 264 years and four months after the fact, putting an end to one of history’s greatest shipwreck mysteries. She was the most technologically advanced warship of her time, the Titanic of her day -- lost at sea with all hands (900 sailors plus 50 volunteers from some of the most distinguished families in England), a full complement of dolphin-handled bronze cannon, and (reputedly) four tons of Portuguese and Brazilian gold coins.
Of all the recovered shipwreck tales I’ve heard and read about, the one that stays with me has to do with something decidedly more mundane than coins or rare cannons. During the course of excavating the site (I don’t recall the ship’s name or origin), large quantities of gravel, used for ballast, were dredged up and laid out to dry in the sun.
And then the ballast began to sprout. Hundreds of unremarkable green weeds. Unremarkable until someone tracked down drawings of them in illuminated, 17th century manuscripts. It turned out that the weeds had been quite common as livestock feed during the Renaissance but had long since become extinct.
Submerged in deep seawater, the seeds had managed to hold on to their modest little cores, their raison d’etre, for more than three centuries.
Causes Barbara Szerlip Supports