16th century sunstone recovered from sunken ship

Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Admin


Underwater archaeologists have recovered a piece of crystal from a 16th century shipwreck found at the bottom of the English Channel. The crystal, made of calcite, is known as a sunstone and was used to determine the position of the sun on cloudy days by revealing patters of polarized light.

In 1592, a British ship sank near the island of Alderney in the English Channel carrying an odd piece of cargo: a small, angular crystal. Though cloudy and scuffed up from 4 centuries at the bottom of the sea, its precise geometry and proximity to the ship’s navigation equipment caught the eye of a diver exploring the wreckage. Once it was brought back to land, a few European scientists began to suspect the mysterious object might be a calcite crystal, which they believe Vikings and other European seafarers used to navigate before the introduction of the magnetic compass.

[Full story]

Story: Lizzie Wade, ScienceNow | Photo: Courtesy of the Alderney Museum

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Follow me on Twitter!   Subscribe to my RSS feed!
  • Question of the Moment

    History in the making. November 8, 2016.

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Art Artifacts Bones Burials China Construction Egypt Egyptians England Food & Drink Fossils Humans Israel Italy Medieval Remains Romans Scotland Shipwrecks Tombs Turkey Underwater WWII
  • Archives