Arche­o­log­i­cal teams to excavate, map wrecks of Franklin ex­pe­di­tion

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

OTTAWA — Cana­dian arche­ol­o­gists are on their way to a re­mote area in the Arc­tic Circle for an­other chance to dig up the se­crets held by the Franklin ex­pe­di­tion wrecks, Parks Canada an­nounced Fri­day.

The task of ex­plor­ing and ex­ca­vat­ing the two ship­wrecks is the “largest, most com­plex un­der­wa­ter arche­o­log­i­cal un­der­tak­ing in Cana­dian his­tory,” Parks Canada said in a re­lease.

Arche­o­log­i­cal teams will travel to the wreck of HMS Ter­ror and use an un­der­wa­ter drone and other tools to cre­ate 3D struc­tural maps of the ship.

Work on the ex­pe­di­tion’s other ship, HMS Ere­bus, will in­volve search­ing the of­fi­cer cab­ins and lower deck for ar­ti­facts.

Parks Canada said there may be thou­sands of ar­ti­facts aboard the wrecks that will help en­rich the coun­try’s knowl­edge of the ex­pe­di­tion.

Based on an ex­ist­ing agree­ment, those ar­ti­facts would be­come shared prop­erty of Canada and the Inuit.

The two ships are the re­mains of an ex­pe­di­tion launched by Bri­tish ex­plorer John Franklin in 1845, leav­ing Eng­land with a crew of 134 sailors.

Seek­ing the North­west Pas­sage, the two ships eventually be­came trapped in the ice near King Wil­liam Is­land, in what is now Nunavut.

Some of the crew mem­bers at­tempted to walk to safety start­ing in 1848, but all eventually per­ished.

Many searches were launched since the ships were lost, seek­ing to find the wrecks and un­ravel the mys­tery of the ill-fated ex­pe­di­tion.

It wasn’t un­til 2014, though, that an ex­pe­di­tion supported by a broad part­ner­ship of Cana­dian gov­ern­ment agen­cies, Inuit, the Gov­ern­ment of Nunavut and other groups dis­cov­ered HMS Ere­bus.

Two years later, an ex­pe­di­tion launched by the Arc­tic Re­search Foun­da­tion dis­cov­ered HMS Ter­ror.

Since then, the fo­cus of Parks Canada, Inuit and other part­ners has been on protecting and con­serv­ing the wrecks, while ex­plor­ing them in stages.

The wrecks are des­ig­nated as a na­tional his­toric site but for now access is re­stricted. Parks Canada is work­ing with a com­mit­tee re­spon­si­ble for ad­vis­ing on the wrecks to fig­ure out how vis­i­tors might be able to ex­pe­ri­ence the ships in ways that main­tain their in­tegrity.

CP FILE PHOTO

Cana­dian arche­ol­o­gists are on their way to a re­mote area in the Arc­tic Circle for an­other chance to dig up the se­crets held by the Franklin ex­pe­di­tion wrecks, Parks Canada an­nounced Fri­day. Ter­ror Bay, where the sunken ship the HMS Ter­ror lies, is seen from the air near Gjoa Haven, Nvt., on Sept. 3, 2017.

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