Team racing to dig up Waterfront ship

2012-02-09 14:08

Cape Town - The remains of a ship found at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has caused some excitement in academic circles and archaeologists want to examine it to determine its exact age.

"The first priority is to get it out," archaeologist Liesbet Schietecatte told News24.

She said that the team would work in partnership with the Iziko Museum in Cape Town to study remains of the ship and artefacts collected at the site.

"Some of it is loose because the digging machine loosened it first and it was only then that it was discovered, which is the Catch 22 of archaeology: You break it before you find it," said Schietecatte.

The remains of the ship are buried in a pit on the construction site of an office development at the No. 1 Silo at the V&A Waterfront and archaeologists have not been able to determine exactly the extent of the find.

Historical value

"When all the loose parts have been removed, we will investigate see what is still left in situ, because we think that there is still some wood left the way the ship or boat got stuck on the sand," Schietecatte said.

The approximately 8m long hull lies buried in beach sand close to where the tidal zone was, in the 1800s. Schietecatte, however, said it was difficult to pin down an exact date until the team has had more time to study it.

"A guess now would be 19th century, but we will have to look at that again. It's like a jigsaw: We will put out all the pieces, clean them up, record them. See how they fit together and by the way the ship was constructed, we will probably be able to tell more."

Schietecatte said that finding items of historical value was not uncommon at the Waterfront, but this ship was unique in that it was the only one found, despite the area having been disturbed when the adjacent parking garage and silo were built.

"Everywhere where the shore has been reclaimed and people are digging, there's a chance of finding them [ships]. That's why we were monitoring here."

The No. 1 Silo is being transformed into an 18 000m² office space scheduled for completion in 2013 and the archaeological team has to conduct their investigation around the active building site.

"There is a big crane that needs to be built, but we can work around that," Schietecatte said.

Schietecatte was trained as a medieval archaeologist in Belgium where she worked for the Flemish Heritage Institute (VIOE) on research and CRM projects.

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  • Bonjo - 2012-02-09 14:31

    gosh, nerds!

      Lorenzo - 2012-02-09 14:40

      You’re an idiot.

      Gustav - 2012-02-09 14:47

      eish Lebo, you can only wish you had the brain to be a nerd...

      jurgen.eksteen - 2012-02-09 15:07

      @Lebo is just mad, because it will be harder to re-write history now.

      Jacque Raymer - 2012-02-09 15:37

      idiot !

      Yvette - 2012-02-09 21:29

      Don't knock 'em... you owe a lot to nerds. :)

      Herman - 2012-02-10 06:25

      @ lebo, your mentality shows exactly why Africa has so very little heritage......

      Janice - 2012-02-10 07:07

      Just shows your mentality lebo! This is really exciting news, the ship being found.

      Preshen - 2012-02-10 08:08

      Nerds rule the world

      dawiej - 2012-02-10 08:34

      Youe are an idiot. But that is to be expected. Bill Gates once said, "Be nice to nerds, chances are you will oneday be working for one"

      Ja - 2012-02-10 09:06

      Well said Herman .. I wonder which African build this ship .. let me think .. ummm ..none ..

      Ja - 2012-02-10 09:06

      Well said Herman .. I wonder which African build this ship .. let me think .. ummm ..none ..

      raegan.mcreed - 2012-02-10 11:24

      gosh ''neanderthal''..

      miyo27 - 2012-02-10 12:22

      and again?!?! wow but you are such an arrogant pr!ck. if only I could tell you in person

  • Willie - 2012-02-09 14:45

    Very interesting.....what an unusual surname for the archaelogist! In SA that would have been Ms Kotze

      Annelise - 2012-02-09 14:51

      Good one Willie!

      Johan - 2012-02-09 14:57

      Hahahahahahahahaha... darn, now I have coffee all over my keyboard. Very funny - "kat skiet"

      heinrich.crouse - 2012-02-09 21:41

      thanks for that! my best laugh of the day.

      Monika - 2012-02-09 22:18

      Hahaha... And then there is the company in Cape Town by the name of Payne & Schietekat.

      Pegasusza - 2012-02-09 22:30

      naar Pienaar, Kotze , Van Brakel

      Waldo - 2012-02-10 09:32

      and they all live in a town called Suurbraak in the Western Cape

  • tony.delucchi - 2012-02-09 14:45

    ....maybe it is Noahs Ark?

      evdwesthuizen1 - 2012-02-09 15:38

      with cannons????

      Hugh - 2012-02-10 08:59

      an 8m long man of war?

  • Richard - 2012-02-09 14:49

    So Cool!

  • Olivia - 2012-02-09 14:50

    Wow!! how exciting and very interesting! Another peice of SA history being unveiled.

      joebruwer - 2012-02-10 08:39

      yea, they are probably gonna claim that its "there" ancestral ship.

  • Daniel - 2012-02-09 14:55

    I dont know much, but where the ship is now there used to be ocean years ago, imagine its the Flying Dutchman, the world's most famous ghost ship en well know death-omen? WIll be cool, but then again maybe I have been watching to much Supernatural again lately. Very interesting this ship and to hear how it unfolds in time to come...

  • wolsonru - 2012-02-09 15:00

    Can't wait to see what it is and how old it is. Hopefully it can be restored! Russel Wolson

  • David - 2012-02-09 15:07

    It's the remains of the first (and only) African trading ship.

      evdwesthuizen1 - 2012-02-09 15:39


      Billy - 2012-02-09 16:04

      Maybe it belonged to Rubber Dinghy Sithole?

  • Ian - 2012-02-09 15:17

    It could be Harrys dinghy?

  • evdwesthuizen1 - 2012-02-09 15:39

    Hey maybe they even find skeletons.....

  • Zion - 2012-02-09 16:12

    Yes, That barge was the one that Jannie used to bring the sheeps to shore.And after they were shorn they were sent to the farms for Sho'

  • KB - 2012-02-09 16:26

    watch the site carefully otherwise by next week all the copper cables and brass fittings will have been swiped and be on sale at Robots.

  • Bernd - 2012-02-09 16:36

    Were there any survivors ?

  • Steve - 2012-02-09 18:41

    Italian captain also bale out before the pasengers? That fine Italian tradition go back to the 1700's??

  • sandy.langenstrass - 2012-02-09 21:22

    They did say it was assumed to be around 1800's.. we had many british,German and french settlers arriving in 1820's, who know's might have been some of our early families who sailed in that very boat to land in the bay...and after they rowed ashore..maybe a storm came up and sunk the ship. I'm sure once they've investigated the findings, there will be a historical story to report back.

  • Alon - 2012-02-09 21:48


  • Remo - 2012-02-09 23:38

    Relax guys, its a Khoi surf board...

  • ruda.sealie - 2012-02-10 10:10

    How exciting!!

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