Archeologists working on the remains of an old ship found at the site of the World Trade Center in New York have come across a coin apparently used in the "stepping of the mast" - a traditional ceremony where a coin for good luck is placed beneath the mast of a newly constructed ship. Thanks to Tim Shuck for forwarding the article.
As Nichole Doub -- Head Conservator at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory -- was helping extract the remains of an 18th century ship from the mud of the World Trade Center construction site, she was asked a familiar question:
While weíre out on the site, we have all these construction workers coming up and one of the most common questions asked any archaeologist on a site is: Have you found the gold yet? Itís kind of the question that everyone asks. And normally you go ďNo, no.Ē
But in this case thereís a chance we could find gold. And thatís if we found one of the lucky coins.
Lucky coin? Ever since the 2nd century B.C. -- not long after Romans began minting coins -- shipbuilders have been slipping a coin into the structure of their ships. Itís a tradition that continues today. In fact, the USS New York - made partially from steel recovered from the World Trade Center towers - did it as well.
For the ancient Romans it was likely a continuation of religious customs. Now it's just a tradition and done for good luck.
So we didnít find it during the five days we were actually excavating it. However, one of my curators did find it between the stern knee and the stern post while we were cleaning the timbers.
Here's what they found:
I wasn't so sure I wanted to publish this, since the coin is so butt-ugly and virtually unidentifiable. Tim adds:
Maybe if PCGS scanned it with their new system traces of lines would become visible, but it looks too far gone for even that technology. Considering all the skills of E-Sylum readers for coins of the era (excluding me), someone might figure it out, the diameter being a starting clue. It will also be helpful once some general dates are established from the wood analysis.
To read the complete article, see:
WTC Ship Gives Up Lucky Coin
Wayne Homren, Editor
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