The wreck of HMS Erebus, which sank 177 years ago, yields new artifacts

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The wreck of HMS Erebus, which sank 177 years ago, yields new artifacts

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Parks Canada archaeologists sit at the dive control console as the Deep Trekker ROV is seen in the dive hole at camp of ice from HMS Erebus.

Underwater archaeologists from Parks Canada have released the results of research they conducted last summer on HMS Erebus, one of two Franklin Expedition ships that went missing in the Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, in 1845.

According to diver Ryan Harris, the team was able to recover 275 artifacts in 11 days of diving. These objects were sent to Ottawa, where they will now be analyzed at the Parks Canada laboratory and prepared for conservation purposes.

For Mr. Harris, one of the highlights of this expedition was finding a leather-bound notebook with some pages still inside, as was the quill pen used to write in it.

Restorers now hope to find handwritten notes inside, or perhaps even the logbook of one of the sailors.

Parks Canada underwater archaeologists work from their barge above the wreck of HMS Erebus in 2021.

Tableware, lieutenant epaulettes and a lens for glasses were also recovered from the freezing waters by the researchers.

Despite the importance of these discoveries, Mr Harris stressed that many more expeditions will have to be carried out to discover all the secrets of HMS Erebus, a job that will take several years. The same goes for the second boat that sank on the trip, HMS Terror.

The silver thread gold plated of a pair of Royal Navy lieutenant epaulets part of a collection of HMS Erebus artifacts at Parks Canada Conservation Laboratories in Ottawa in 2020.

Both ships were led by Captain John Franklin, whose goal was to make the first successful crossing of the Northwest Passage. But after they left in 1845, no one heard from them.

The wreck of HMS Erebus was found in 2014, while that of HMS Terror was located two years later.

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