Tamara Thomsen and Mallory Dragt thought they might take a spin underneath Lake Mendota on a few underwater scooters, motorized devices that scuba divers use to propel themselves by way of the water.
It was an exquisite Saturday morning in June, and the duo, who work at Diversions Scuba, debated whether or not they had simply seen a log protruding of the underside of the 9,781-acre lake or one thing extraordinarily uncommon.
The invention, on a slope in 27 ft of water close to Shorewood Hills, has turned out to be about as historic because it will get.
After a little bit of investigation, it seems that Thomsen, who can be a maritime archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historic Society, was proper in judging that it was greater than only a log: It was a dugout canoe. A number of weeks later, carbon-14 relationship confirmed that the 15-foot-long vessel was an estimated 1,200 years outdated, the oldest intact boat ever present in Wisconsin waters.
On a brisk Tuesday, amid a chop of waves and 50-degree water, the canoe was delivered to shore by groups of divers who shared fist bumps and hugs to applause from residents of the Spring Harbor neighborhood who had gathered on the seaside to witness the canoe’s return to shore.
“That is the primary time this factor has been out of the water in 1,200 years. And perhaps they left from this very seaside to go fishing,” mentioned James Skibo, Wisconsin’s state archaeologist. “Not solely has it been underwater; it’s been underneath the bottom. The rationale it’s so nicely preserved is that it has not been uncovered to the sunshine. In order that’s one of many causes now we have to start out preserving it. There’s residing organisms on it which are chewing away on it as we converse.”