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Md. Archaeologists Unearth The Past In Prince George's County

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) -- Shipwreck and sunken treasures.  It sounds a lot like a movie, but as Jessica Kartalija reports, Maryland archaeologists are on a mission to dig up the past in Prince George's County.

In the shallows of the Patuxent River near Upper Marlboro is the site of Maryland's largest artifacts from the War of 1812.

"It is very interesting that we found it here in the heart of the Patuxent in the heart of Maryland.  There are probably other vessels nearby," said archaeologist Susan Langley.

Langley is an underwater archaeologist, part of a team surveying a shipwreck that may have been part of Commodore Joshua Barney's Chesapeake Bay flotilla.

"It may well be the USS Scorpion, which was Barney's flagship.  It may not; it may be one of the other flotilla vessels," Langley said.

Divers dip into the murky water, hoping to recover artifacts left behind when the ship sank. With limited visibility, archaeologists rely on their hands to learn about the ship.

"You only have about a foot or two of visibility and you get down there with that current rushing and it's as if you're in a snowstorm or blizzard and you can't see anything," said archaeologist Julie Schablitsky.

Findings from the $4 million excavation project will go to support heritage tourism efforts throughout the state.

"I'd expect we will find rope, leather, ballast, maybe some crockery," Langley said.

Archaeologists say other ships may be hiding below the surface.

"It varies in the count whether there could be between 15 and 18 in the area," Langley said.

The ship was also investigated back in 1979 and 1980 by a private nonprofit.

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