SYDNEY, Australia – When English explorer James Cook set off in 1768 in search of the “unknown southern land” known as Terra Australis Incognita, he sailed aboard a naval research vessel called HMB Endeavor. More than 90 people were on board the ship, described by some historians as simple but sturdy.
Two years later, she anchored off the east coast of what is now Australia, end two centuries of British control. She continued to transport British troops during the American Revolutionary War, and met with the collapse in 1778, part of a fleet of ships that historians believe sank off the coast of Rhode Island.
For more than two decades, a team of Australian and American researchers scoured the seas in search of the wreck.
Then, on Thursday morning, 254 years after Cook set sail, archaeologists at the Australian National Maritime Museum announced that they were “convinced” that they had located the director’s final resting place. museum executive and director, Kevin Sumption, summon “One of the most important and controversial ships in Australia’s maritime history.”
But shortly after the press conference in Sydney, there was an unexpected response from the museum’s American research collaborator, the Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project.
From Rhode Island, where it’s still midnight, a brief statement appear on the project website. It called the identification of the debris “premature” and the Australian museum’s action a “breach of contract between RIMAP and ANMM regarding the conduct of this research and the manner in which its results are shared with the public. ”
The duel statements raise several questions. Did the Australian jump the gun, announce the discovery without the approval of the Rhode Island team? Why did they choose to hold the press conference at a time that seemed inhospitable to their American research partners? What exactly does a breach of contract include? And most importantly: Has Cook’s famous wreck finally been discovered?
The Australian Museum did not respond to a request for comment. The Rhode Island Project merely shared its former statement.
Endeavor was relatively small – less than 100 feet long – and was not considered an impressive or important ship during its lifetime. But its role in Australia’s history nonetheless means it’s heavily hidden in national lore.
Cook raised the British flag over what is now called Island of Ownership in 1770. Eighteen years later, a British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbor to begin a penal colony. The marines raised the flag on what the British described as “Terra Nullius” (Land of No One), even though Aboriginal peoples have inhabited the continent for some 65,000 years.
The modern search for Endeavor debris began in 1999, when Australian National Maritime Museum Center agreed to collaborate with Rhode Island Maritime Archeology Projectwas founded by Kathy Abbass with the purpose of “studying the maritime history of Rhode Island and conducting marine archaeological research.”
For more than two decades, teams have scoured the Newport Harbor area off the coast of Rhode Island. They used conventional methods to identify old ships; survey construction details, examine historical records and use what remains of a ship to create its original model.
When Mr. Sumption announced that a wreck in the harbor had been correctly identified as the Endeavor, he cited a number of factors, including historical evidence related to the sinking; diagrams of the ship recorded in the 1700s; and the use of European wood instead of American wood. Although only 15% of the ship survived, the researchers said, Mr. Sumption was “satisfied” with his team’s conclusions.
“The final pieces of the puzzle have to be confirmed before I feel able to make this call,” he said. “Based on archival and archaeological evidence, I believe it was Endeavor.”
The announcement caused a stir around the world.
Anna Clark, a research fellow at the Australian Center for Public History, said, “The fact that Endeavor generated so much interest and engagement 252 years later really shows it to be a defining icon. like in Australian history, both in its profound history and in its modern history. ”
But the Rhode Island project’s claims quickly overshadowed the initial news.
The Endeavor comes at a tense moment in the war over Australia’s colonial history. The arrival of the first fleet of European settlers to Sydney in 1788 is commemorated with Australia The day, on January 26. Since the holiday began, Indigenous Australians were excluded from the celebrations; In recent years, the holiday is the theme of public protest.
In 1888, when Sir Henry Parkes, the father of confederation of Australia, was asked how First Nations people could join, he commented that it would only serve to “remind them that we robbed them.” For many, the holiday is a marker of the country’s shameful treatment of its natives: Invasion Day.
Controversy over whether Cook’s ship has actually been discovered has also sparked criticism that some Australians are too obsessed with the people and the ship.
Finally, Kate Fullagar, a history professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, said “the ship itself was not particularly distinctive in the British naval fleet at the time – except it had existed for some time.” a long time”.
How the problem will be solved remains murky. The Australian Museum later issued a statement denying the alleged breach of contract. Mr Sumption later revised his view that Endeavor was found to be “confident” of the word “persuasive”. The Rhode Island Project says it will post the “legitimate report” on its own website when it’s ready.
From an academic perspective, Endeavor’s value is limited, some experts say. Wendy van Duivenvoorde, associate professor of marine archeology at Flinders University in South Australia, said that “just found an iconic ship with no archaeological value”.
“We are not answering any questions by finding a shipwreck,” she said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/world/australia/captain-james-cook-hmb-endeavour.html Captain James Cook’s ship was caught in the center of the sea rift