Category Archives: Shipwreck Kitsch

Why Dive? Underwater Archaeology Video Game

I’m not a big gammer, as they say. Maybe some day. Until then I’ll just marvel from afar.

According to this press release:

Arqueologia Subaquática SA (AWW), a leading marine archaeology company, and Biodroid Entertainment, a media entertainment company, both based in Portugal, have reached an agreement to jointly develop a videogame of shipwreck underwater expeditions strongly inspired by the actual work of the former in underwater heritage sites all around the globe.

Titled “ARQ Treasure Quest,” the game concept was developed by the Arqueonautas team and will encompass strategy elements as well as simulation realistic facets from operations into its gameplay. The primary goal for the player is to successfully manage a marine archaeological expedition with an expert team of historians, archaeologists, divers, surveyors, conservators, researchers, investors, government officials and many other specialists in search for sunken treasures. An important part of the gameplay is to follow actual legal procedures and good governances to achieve satisfying results moving through the different levels.

The game is currently searching for crowd funding onIndieGoGo and a first demo will be presented in August, during GDC Europe.

Diogo Horta e Costa, founding partner of Biodroid, said that “this venture with Arqueonautas will open our production to a whole new genre of gaming, one with historical and technical factual data and a worthwhile adventures mission. At the same time that we’ll bring awareness for maritime heritage, we’ll bring players to experience first-hand the fun and excitement of shipwreck diving in exotic locations with a true historical back-drop.”

Wow — that sounds pretty neat. I hope send complementary copies to Odyssey Marine Exploration and the Mel Fisher Museum!

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Filed under Announcement, Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch

Titanic Replica Part II

Last week we posted on the fateful cruise of a 23-foot Titanic replica on Lake Pontchartrain. Fateful because of the traffic jam it caused on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Well, yesterday’s Times-Picayune (Save the Picayune!) had a front-page expose on the replica’s owner, Mark Koch. I mention him here because he is apparently quite the shipwreck enthusiast. Koch, a commercial diver, has also spent some time “combing the Gulf of Mexico for shipwrecks.” According to the T-P article, Koch is quite the collector of “shipwreck kitsch” (for lack of a better term). He also owns the only two lifeboats known to exist from the Andrea Doria, a luxury liner that sank off the coast of Nantucket in 1956. Incidentally, Koch purchased both the Titanic replica and Andrea Doria lifeboats on eBay! Ah, the wonders of eBay.

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Titanic traffic jam (literally)

Once again I haven’t had to look farther than my morning paper to find solid shipwreck material. I spied today’s post walking from the front porch to the french press–the cover of Times-Picayune had the above image with this headline: “Titanic Muddle: A 23-foot replica of the doomed liner creates Causeway traffic jam in morning rush hour.” Let’s just say coffee was a few minutes late!

Apparently, Mark Koch of Metairie, Lousiana, took his 23-foot Titanic replica for a steam yesterday morning on lovely Lake Pontchartrain. The result was…well…titanic. Motorists on the nearby Causeway bridge called radio stations and relatives. A few went so far as to notify the Coast Guard (According to Petty Officer Bill Colclough, they didn’t  “deploy any assets to investigate it”). Rampant rubbernecking translated into miles of traffic. Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou told the Picayune “I hope whoever owns it doesn’t cruise at rush hour again.”

I was almost beginning to believe Titanic hoopla was subsiding. But two Titanic posts in two days reminds us that we still have seven months of the “Year of the Titanic” ahead of us.

For the full story click here.

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Filed under Notes from the Field, Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch, Wrecks in the News

Coming Soon: 170-year-old shipwreck beer

We started following this story a few months back. In 2010, archaeologists discovered a mid-19th-century shipwreck off the archipelago of Åland in Finland laden with unopened beer and champaign bottles. The local government commissioned a firm to:

to study the composition of the shipwreck beer and identify the type of yeast used to brew it. The aim of the project was to study what early 19th-century beer was like and whether its production process could be reverse-engineered and the beer replicated. The study involved an analysis of the physico-chemical properties of the beer and microbiological and DNA analyses of the beer, bottle and cork. In particular, the aim was to isolate any living microbes. 

They came up empty on the first attempt, but yesterday researchers for VTT announced their discovery of four live bacteria species. According to this press release:

Both bottles contained beautiful pale golden liquids, identified as beer by the presence of malt sugars, aromatic compounds and hops typical of the beverage. Chemical analyses showed that the beer could originally have featured hints of rose, almond and cloves. However, the beers in the bottles examined had not stood the test of time well.

The pale golden colour indicates that the beers were made from unroasted malt. The burned flavour suggests that heating at the mashing stage was not under control. It is possible, though, that a smoky flavour in beer was appreciated at the time. The beers were probably made from grain – barley or wheat or a combination of the two. Hops, of a variety typical of a couple of centuries ago, had been added before boiling the wort.

Four different species of live lactic acid bacteria were isolated from the beer. Pediococcus damnosus, Lactobacillus malefermentans and “Lactobacillus backii” are highly adapted to growing in beer and in association with brewing yeast. The fourth one, Lactobacillus kisonensis was first discovered only a few years ago from a traditional fermented vegetable product in Japan. Some of the bacteria were capable of producing viscous sugar polymers tentatively identified as beta-glucan. This sugar polymer can protect bacterial cells against various environmental stresses and may have contributed to the longevity of the bacteria in the beers.

Dead yeast cells were discovered in the beer. Some of them appeared to be Saccharomyces cerevisiae or brewer’s yeast, while others resembled Dekkera yeast characteristic of lambic beer. No living yeast cells were found, but trace amount of yeast DNA could be detected from one of the bottles.

Apparently, “scientific research” will continue. I’m looking forward to tasting this 1840s brew. No word on how long we’ll have to wait.

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Recent Shipwreck News

Truth be told, I’ve been pretty distracted the past couple of weeks. But ships continue to wreck and shipwrecks continue to inundate our daily lives. So here’s some of the shipwreck material that’s been piling up in my inbox.

The Huffington Post ran an article about the possibilities and problems facing the approximately 10,000 wrecks scattered around Indonesia. The age-old debate over salvage rights and cultural heritage is playing as the Indonesian government “wrangles over a new policy on underwater heritage.” The archipelago is one of the world’s great wreck traps and the nation allows for-profit excavations, to the pleasure of treasure hunters and the horror of historians and archaeologists. I for one hope the government begins to treat shipwrecks as the finite cultural resources they are rather than just “another resource to exploit.” It’s a fascinating article and well worth a read.

On a lighter note, it appears Alexandra Roach, a “rising Welsh star,” will be playing a shipwreck survivor washed ashore near a small English town in the new historical series Hunderby.

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Filed under Along the Coast, Notes from the Field, Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch