Human Remains


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Bob Cruise

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It was announced today that the crew salvaging the sunken Civil War Ironclad "The Monitor" found a complete human skeleton.

The ship sank 140 years ago.

I no longer believe that old line about skeletons from Titanic's passengers having dissolved long ago.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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You might want to look at factors like calcium content in the water, Bob.

Not all rates of decay are consistant - different conditions lead to different states of preservation.
 
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Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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Indeed. If what's going on with the Monitor as far as conditions was true with Titanic, you'd see remains in the debris field.


Adam
 
May 5, 2001
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Excuse me but..........WRONGO!

First you have the salt water, then you have the bone crushing pressure, then you have the marine life eating away at whatever floated to the bottom..

Plus there was no mention about how deep this skeleton was found.......

I would make the presumption that if they went into the Arizona, it would not be a pretty sight down there since it's only 40 ft down.

Regards,
Bill
 

Steve Santini

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Nov 22, 2000
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Hi all,
The Monitor wreck lies in just over 230 feet of water. A far cry from the enormous depth of the Titanic wreck. Significant factors affecting decomposition of bone material on any wreck include the following: temperature of water, mineral and chemical content of water, depth of remains, destructive and/or hungry marine life forms, acidic mud, caustic elements in wreck site ocean bed depositis, exposure to both "internal" and "external" metallic "poisons" from a gradually degenerating hull, acid rain from above sea level man made pollution, currents,etc. So, as can be seen, there are MANY things playing a part in wether or not human remains will be present on any given ship wreck. The presence, or lack of, human remains on a wreck site is not neccesarily directly linked to the particular age of the wreck itself. Many other factors are constantly at work and must be considered. Hope this helps. Regards, Steve Santini
 
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Bob Cruise

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All -

I know the geochemical argument has always been put forth to make the case for no Titanic skeletons (oxygen poor waters leach the carbonates from the bone matter).

And it makes sense for a skeleton lying on the ocean floor (the pairs of shoes that have been found that could only been on a pair of legs).

But, as I understand it, the skeleton found along with the Monitor was buried in the sediment. What amazes me is that in 230 feet of water there is an incredible amount of sea life, much of it the burrowing, boring type. I would have thought that in 140 years those bugs would have laid waste to anything organic.

Could covered skeletons lie near Titanic, smothered somewhat by the great cloud of sediment that was kicked up when the ship hit bottom?

(With the exceedingly low annual rate of sedimentation down there, the sediment is very, very fine. When kicked up into a cloud, it takes forever to settle.)

In either case, the finding of the skeleton near the Monitor brings up another interesting quandary: are they disturbing a grave?

So far, I haven't heard anything like the outcry which accompanied the discovery of the Titanic back in 1985 to leave the ship be.

What do you think?
 

Steve Santini

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Nov 22, 2000
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Hello all,
I do know for a fact that a small amount of wooden artifacts have been found and raised from the wreck of the White Star Line's Atlantic which sank off Prospect, Nova Scotia in 1873. While some of these relics do show the tell tale signs of attack by wood boring organisms, some show noticably less damage than others. And, the Atlantic wreck lies in shallower water than the Monitor. One would think that there would be even more of the burrowing and boring creatures living at the depth the Atlantic sank to. My point in bringing up the S.S. Atlantic is to show that although some degerative effects of long term submersion in sea water are present on this wreck, those same effects are not always consistant on all materials of a like nature found at the wreck site. Some similiar objects display greater degrees of decay than others. The particular reasons why this is so is not known to me. However, some of the same contributing environmental factors may eventually explain why the bones found in some parts of the Monitor are in recognizable and perhaps even fair condition as opposed to others found in perhaps less than pristine condition. I have a strong feeling that as explorations of the Titanic's interior penetrate deeper and deeper into the wreck, we may see yet again some interesting "exceptions" to some widely accepted "rules" of oceanic decay where wood and even human bones are concerned. Regards, Steve Santini.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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There was an article as to whether skeletons still remain in or near the wreck of Titanic, in an issue of the Atlantic Daily Bulletin, I think it was back in 1995. What I got out of it is that it's likely that teeth remain, however it is unlikely that any bones can still be found.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Me the best? Tell it to the police!

I understand that these men will eventually recieve a burial with full military honours. I hope so. While they may not have been on the "right" side of the issue, their courage is beyond question, and they were willing to put their lives on the line for it.
 

Beth Barber

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Jun 7, 2001
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Yes - the crew of the Hunley will be buried will military Honors. The is the address to the Friends of the Hunley WebSite: http://www.hunley.org

Go to Events and click on Crew Burial. Its a pretty good site with loads of information.

The first crew was buried right across the street from where I work. They accidentally built the Citadel Football Stadium over the site. It was called the Charleston Mariners Cemetary. The first crew was moved to Magnolia Cemetary to be buried beside the 2nd crew. Its all pretty interesting.

- Beth
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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The point about lack of outrage over the "disturbing of a grave site" concerning this incident is I think a very good one. That Robert Ballard does not see fit to denounce this expedition I think only confirms what I've always felt about the man, about how his sanctimony about "disturbing a gravesite" when it came to the Titanic stemmed from other matters entirely.
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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"about how his sanctimony about "disturbing a gravesite" when it came to the Titanic stemmed from other matters entirely."

Where would you say it came from, Eric? Certainly, the Monitor sank fairly recently in history, but not only is it more of an archaeological artifact than Titanic, but it is also a military vessel. I would think the Navy should be allowed to do with this wreck as it sees fit, considering they are trying to preserve remnants of an iron hulk that is disintegrating over time. Perhaps the same will be done to the Arizona in a few decades.

I don't see why Ballard would object to this operation, seeing as it's sailors taking care of their naval heritage.


Adam
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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Well said Adam. Not only is it sailors taking care of there heritage it is sailors taking care of the remeberance of there fellow shipmates. Something niether RMS Titanic Inc or any other organization can do for Titanic.
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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"Certainly, the Monitor sank fairly recently in history, but not only is it more of an archaeological artifact than Titanic, but it is also a military vessel."

Which under the definition of Ballard logic would make it more off-limits.

What I come back to is the simple fact that any handwringing about "disturbing a gravesite" that ever was applied to the Titanic by critics of any salvage operation, that never even amounted to the recovery or disturbing of human remains, goes out the window if those same people do not condemn any other salvage expedition where human remains are entombed. That simply reflects my belief that all people are ultimately equal in the eyes of God, and valuing one shipwreck over the other is the worst form of inconsistency imaginable.

As for what I regard Ballard's true motives to have been, I believe they stemmed from a jealousy over the fact that he would not be able to personally control the fate of the Titanic wrecksite, and thus making him decide to use his status as Titanic's discoverer to demonize everyone else who took part in salvage.
 

Adam McGuirk

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May 19, 2002
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"That simply reflects my belief that all people are ultimately equal in the eyes of God, and valuing one shipwreck over the other is the worst form of inconsistency imaginable."

Agreed,
Adam
 

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