A one-meter test pit was excavated at grid coordinates 115N/109E through coarse sand, shell hash, and compacted silt. The feature was progressively exposed to reveal a large encrusted metal container, a small brass ring, fragments of hemp rope and other organic debris, and small ballast stones, which appear to have fallen down between the worm-eaten remains of two starboard bow frames, coming to rest against another piece of wood and the outer hull planking. All materials, except for the wooden remains, were recovered for analysis.
The metal container (07,852) is a crudely fashioned pitcher with a heavy handle and thickened rim, which appears to have been soldered as one piece to a thinner cone of metal. This tapers to an extremely wide base, to which has been lap-soldered a concave disk of metal. The lower end of the handle may have been riveted to the body of the pitcher; the doughnut-shaped mouth has a subtle indentation to serve as a pouring spout. The container is 27.8 cm in height and 31.8 cm in diameter at the base. The inner diameter of the mouth is 8.7 cm; the outer diameter measures 9.8 cm. The 2.5 cm thick handle, opposite the spout, extends from the top of the opening to approximately 13 cm down the body of the jug at the point of attachment.
Fig. 32. A large copper pitcher, found in the forward part of the ship, probably was used for cooking, or for heating liquids.
After removal from the site, contents of the container (silt, mud, and shell) were sifted; however, no evidence of any foodstuffs could be discerned. Pinholes were noted in the wall of the vessel, as were a larger hole and cracks in the bottom. Dark coloration, visible throughout the metal’s encrustation, suggested initially that the pitcher may have been made of tin or pewter. A radiograph of the entire object revealed that there is little parent metal left; the majority of the fabric of the pitcher appears to be corrosion products.
In order to determine the composition of the original metal, a sample of the fabric was sent to the Western Australia Maritime Museum to be analyzed by the Chemistry Centre; analysis was performed using a scanning electron microscope. Results of this test concluded that the pitcher was made of copper. Further testing by the Western Australia Maritime Museum indicated traces of sulfur, tin, and iron which would be consistent with contamination from nearby objects (Ian MacLeod to Herb Bump, 16 December, 1993). Analysis of another sample of the pitcher’s outer fabric was performed by the Winterthur Museum Analytical Laboratory using X-ray fluorescence. These results confirmed that the vessel was made of copper with small amounts (less than 1%) of trace metals such as tin, antimony, silver and lead. However, analysis of a sample from the interior of the vessel revealed much higher concentrations of tin, up to three times as high as that found in the exterior samples (Janice Carlson to J. Bratten, 2 November, 1994). This finding suggests that the interior of the container may have been coated or lined with tin.
Fashioned with a relatively small mouth and large flared base, the pitcher may have been employed to heat liquids on the ship’s galley stove. Its thin concave bottom would have collected heat without burning, and its wide base would have lowered its center of gravity to enhance stability and to prevent the pitcher from tipping at sea. To date, no parallels for this artifact have been found, either on contemporary archaeological sites, or in various museum collections consulted. However, a similarly shaped container appears in a woodcut by Peter Breugel the Elder. Based on a 1558 drawing depicting an alchemist’s laboratory, the woodcut includes a glimpse of a pitcher of corresponding size and matching features with the one recovered from the Emanuel Point Ship.
Fig. 33. A container with features similar to the copper pitcher is shown at the lower left in this engraving by Peter Breugel the elder, entitled “The Alchemist,” dated 1558 (from Klein 1963:171).