Organic Ship’s Debris
Below midships ballast and between frames in the stern, the Emanuel Point Ship’s bilge sediments had preserved a surprising array of organic debris that had accumulated over time throughout the vessel’s sailing career. Materials recovered in these deposits include wooden packing materials (dunnage), rope and cordage, animal remains, and a variety of botanical specimens, such as leaves, nuts, and seeds. Examples of each of these materials are discussed in respective chapters below. This chapter deals with other artifacts also found in association with bilge sediments, such as wooden objects and the remains of leather shoes.
Fig. 36. Remarkably preserved in the waters of Pensacola Bay,
this cork is undoubtedly a stopper for an Olive Jar.
Two cork stoppers were found in association with several olive jar sherds. The most complete cork would have fit the mouth of a jar with a 6.6 cm maximum opening. The cork measures 1.9 cm in thickness and has been trimmed to a tapered width of 4.8 cm at its charred lower end. A resinous deposit was found adhering to its upper surface with a color and odor very similar to pine pitch. Additionally, two smaller corks were recovered
A small tapered wooden tool handle (08,825) with a square hole and associated iron concretion was found on top of the port bilge boards at the main mast step. The handle is circular in cross section; it measures 20.8 cm in length, 4 cm thick at the middle, tapering to approximately 2 cm in width at the extreme ends. The hole that once held the iron tool measures 1.1 by 1.8 cm. The placement of hole, the overall shape of the handle, and its provenience suggest a small auger, or shipwright’s gimlet, that may have been discarded in the bilge, perhaps at the time of the ship’s construction.
Fig. 37. A wooden tool handle, probably for an awl or gimlet, was found in the ship’s bilge.
A smaller piece of worked wood (07,843) may also have been associated with the ship’s construction. The object is a carved stick, 14.2 cm in length and circular in cross section, with a notched end, which may have been an attachment point for a string or other implement. Speculation as to this artifact’s function includes a line level or plumb bob handle; however it could also have been the product of idle whittling.
Fig. 38. This wooden peg, or tool of unknown function, was recovered near the mast step.
Also intermixed among the bilge debris were several other small wooden artifacts. Three appear to have been either stoppers or small wooden plugs. One of these (00,285) is similiar to a wooden plug recovered from the English Tudor warship Mary Rose. It had been used to stopper a leather flask (Rule 1982:187). This hardwood artifact from the Emanuel Point Ship was found during stern excavations between the two frames located immediately at the aft end of the keelson. Measuring 7.2 cm in length, the “plumb bob” shaped peg tapers from a rounded end of 0.45 cm to 2.2 cm wide cut top. Two of the upper surfaces have been cut on both sides to provide flat surfaces for gripping or decoration. The artifact may have been used as a stopper or perhaps as a touch hole plug for a cannon. The other peg-like artifacts (00,286.1 and 00,286.2) measure 6.6 cm and 3.6 cm in length. Each tapers from a rounded end of 0.45 cm to rounded tops of 1.3 cm and 1.2 cm diameters respectively. The larger piece appears to have been fashioned from a hard wood and the second, which is fragmented, from a soft wood. Their exact functions are not known, but like the larger peg they may have served as bottle or flask stopper, a type of closure peg for a cabinet or storage box, or possibly as cannon touch hole stoppers.
Fig. 39. Soft wood peg of unknown function.
The fourth wooden artifact (00,282) is a softwood peg that resembles a “tinker toy” or a tuning knob for a musical instrument. The lower end of the piece is a small diameter (1 cm) dowel, 2.3 cm long terminating into a rectangular “nut” (1.9 cm x 1.7 x 1.1 cm) providing an overall length of 3.3 cm. At the top of the nut-like portion a mortise has been carved and a small remnant of a tenon (0.85 cm x 0.5 cm) has been inserted. The tenon is a dissimilar wood type and its eroded end projects only 2 mm above the top of the nut. The function of this artifact is unknown.
Ship Silhouette Carving
Deep in the bilge among scraps of wood and other carpenters’ debris just abaft the port pump sump a curious and unique object was discovered: the small carved silhouette of a ship in the shape of a classic galleon. Stained dark from the sediments in which it was buried, the miniature carving (07,754) measures 11.3 cm in length, 4.4 cm in height, and 4 mm to 7 mm in thickness. Fashioned from fir, classic features of a typical 16th-century Spanish galleon, such as the heavy beakhead in the bow, a pronounced forecastle, high freeboard, and towering sterncastle and gallery are faithfully reproduced in silhouette by someone who was quite familiar with contemporary hallmarks of naval architecture.
Fig. 40. A craftsman left behind this small carved silhouette of a 16th century galleon in the bottom of the ship.
The carving‘s discovery beneath ballast and bilge sediments suggests that it probably was deposited in the ship at the time of its construction, perhaps inadvertently left behind by an apprentice shipwright as he resumed his work. The only other known image of a Spanish galleon found in the New World is a graffiti-like rendering on a plank discovered on the Red Bay galleon San Juan (Grenier 1988:75).
Fig. 41. (Top) Galleon model dated 1540 in the Museo Naval in Madrid. (Bottom) Emanuel Point silhouette carving shown at same size.
Fig. 42. This sole of a small shoe, possibly a woman’s platform shoe called a "chapin," is typical of Spanish-style shoes popular in the 1540s.
Eight fragments of leather were recovered during excavation of the main mast step. The three largest pieces are the remains of shoes; each piece exhibits stitching holes along its outer edge, and many of the holes retain traces of the original thread that secured parts of the shoe (Bratten 1995). According to a study by David Breetzke (1995), the leather fragments are cow hide, that were probably tannin treated. Shoes represented by the three fragments were either of turnshoe, or of turn-welt, construction. The first is one of the oldest methods of shoemaking: the shoe is made wrong side out; after stitching, the shoe is turned right side out and reshaped for finishing. Turn-welt construction was a transitional point between the turnshoe and the welted shoe; the turnshoe is made with an extra wide rand (strip of leather) sewn in the seam so that this becomes a welt to which a first sole, or later repair sole, can be stitched.
Shoe fragment 07,701 is the sole of a small shoe or mule, with four stitches per cm.. The number of stitches per centimeter can indicate the quality of craftsmanship and the price of the shoemaker’s product (Cliff Pequet to D. Breetzke, pers. comm., April 1995). Lacking a heel, the sole is comparable in size to a modern woman’s 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 b shoe. According to June Swann, a consultant on the history of shoes and shoemaking, the sole may have belonged to a woman’s or girl’s platform shoe, known as a “chapin,” of typical Spanish style (J. Swann to David Breetzke, 15 April, 1995).
Shoe fragment 07,799 is part of a shoe sole broken across the tread (the area of greatest wear). At the other end, the sole has been cut just in front of the seat (rear end of the sole where the heel rests). The straight cut suggests a repair to the shoe. Two of the outer edges of the sole seam are turned over, with what appears to be a fragment of the rand surviving. The sole has three to four stitches per cm.
Fig 43. Part of a shoe sole broken across the tread. This straight cut may indicate a repair.
Shoe fragment 08,809 is from a larger shoe or boot, either part of a vamp (front upper section) which was originally square with rounded corners, or part of a heel. Wear marks suggest that it was worn on the left foot. This fragment has four to five stitches per cm.
Fig. 44. A large shoe or boot fragment, with four to five stitches per cm., indicating that it was quality footwear.
Prior to the discovery of these shoe fragments, the earliest recorded European footwear found in North America was represented by the shoe remains recovered from the Basque ship, San Juan, which sank in Red Bay, Labrador in 1565 (J. Swan to David Breetzke, 14 February, 1995).
The remaining leather fragments consist of small pieces of various thickness and texture. One fragment appears to be felt and another, recovered from the port pump well, may be a remnant of the sump pump’s flapper valve (Bratten 1995).