State archaeologists get their hands on artifacts from a mysterious shipwreck

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Nearly 200 years ago, a ship sank in the Gulf of Mexico, about 35 miles off Louisiana's coast. It stayed, undiscovered, on the seabed, about 4,000 feet below the surface, until 2002, when a crew happened upon the wreckage while checking out a pipeline.

An expedition led by Texas A&M University found no skeletal remains and nothing to indicate the vessel's name, where it came from or how it sank. But underwater sleuths discovered plenty of artifacts, including a telescope, pottery, French bottles, swords, English mustard jars, hourglasses, a cast-iron stove and a Scottish cannon, Louisiana State Museum spokesman Arthur Smith said.

About 500 of those pieces are to be transferred today to the Louisiana State Museum and the state Division of Archaeology.

Archaeologists will study the pieces, Smith said, and eventually the museum will display them.

In addition to receiving the artifacts, the state will assume the responsibility of solving this mystery of the deep.

So far the only clue researchers have about the vessel's age is a coin marked 1810. That means it might have gone down during the War of 1812, Smith said, but no one is certain about that yet.

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