Ford Publishes on Shipwreck Identification

Posted on 12/12/2018 3:24:21 PM

Ben Ford (Anthropology) recently published an article on the identification of the first archaeological example of a Durham boat in the journal Historical Archaeology. The article details the discovery, excavation, recording, and identification of the shipwreck.

Caza recording Durham boat shipwreck.The Durham boat wreck was discovered in 2011 by Tim Caza (a co-author on the article) in Oneida Lake. Ford worked with Caza and local divers to record the wreck during the summers of 2013 and 2015. The recent article describes the collaborative efforts to record the wreck and definitively identify it as a Durham boat.

Durham boats were approximately 60' x 10' vessels designed to carry heavy loads on the unimproved rivers of eastern North America. They were the tractor-trailers of their period, allowing commerce and industry to spread along the rivers of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ontario, and elsewhere.

The Oneida Lake Durham boat was 62' long, 10' wide, and could have carried approximately 20 tons of cargo.

Based on the artifacts found with the wreck, they way the vessel was built, and the development of Oneida Lake, the wreck likely dates to the first quarter of the 19th century.

Despite the importance of the vessel type, this is the first archaeologically identified version. Funding from the University Senate Research Committee supported this research.

Durham boat shipwreck lines and reconstruction

Anthropology Department