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THE TREASURE HUNTER'S NEWSLETTER
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One of the great mysteries of navigation solved quickly… thanks to metal detectors and a team of scientists.
An ambitious project sanctioned by the King.
Appointed ship commander after having distinguished himself during the war of independence of the United States (1778-1782), Count Jean-François de Galaup de Lapérouse is placed in charge of an ambitious expedition to sail around the world by King Louis XVI of France. This voyage was intended to build upon the prior discoveries of Captain Cook. The objectives were multiple: geographical, scientific, economic, but also political with the intention to establish French bases in Alaska, the Philippines and the Kamchatka Peninsula. On board were the scientific elite of the time: botanists, cartographers, naturalists, physicists, paleoanthropologists and even a surgeon! The intention was to gather knowledge and information and make discoveries on level with the encyclopedia and its popular works of knowledge. The King himself decreed that the expedition was to be conducted without risking life or limb. The entire crew was sworn to behave honorable in the face of any hardships or situations it would meet.
The ExpeditionTwo ships, the Boussole and the Astrolabe thus leave Brest on August 1, 1785 for a tour estimated at three years. The results of the expedition were to be recorded each stopover. The expedition would follow the route from Brest to Brazil on to in Chile, then the Easter Island, and on to Hawaii in 1786. In 1787 they were scheduled to explore the Asian coast. History records that Lapérouse was one of the discoverers of the Eastern coast of New Caledonia.
It is on March 10, 1788, with its departure from Australia when the mystery of the disappearance of the Lapérouse expedition begins. With no news from the expedition in the middle of 1789 worry mounts in Versailles. The expedition is declared officially lost on February 14, 1791. The mystery will remain unsolved for 40 years!
In 1791, the first expedition to rescue the lost expedition had failed. History has it that King Louis XVI asked of news about the lost expedition as he was being led to the scaffold to face execution by guillotine. It is in 1861 that an Irish captain named Dillon buys French merchandise of French origin from Vanikoro, an island close to the place to the supposed shipwreck and not far from the Solomon Islands. Further investigation by the Irish captain leads to the discovery of the wrecks of the expedition.
Fast forward to 1981, the Solomon association of Noumea, led by Alain Conan, once again set out to investigate and to bring to light the circumstances under which the Lapérouse expedition met its fate.
Research discovered and documented thousands of crockery pieces, small glassware, silver cutlery, maps, navigation equipment and sculptures. Restored, treated and authenticated, they are on display at the Lapérouse Museum of Albi and the maritime Museum of history of New Caledonia.
In 1999, the remains of a camp are discovered where stores of weapons, musket balls, a royal seal, uniform buttons and navigational instruments and canon all found within a few square yards.
In 2003, using basic archaeological techniques the skeletal remains of an officer or scientist was located and recovered in an exceptional state of preservation.
Metal Detectors and the preservation of history.
In April 2008 a new expedition will be launched to gather more clues to the fate of the lost expedition. The size of the undertaking is without precedent, as more than 100 people to include scientists, academics and specialists in various disciplines, supported by several French ministries to include the ministry of defense, the ministry of culture and the ministry of research and the French Navy. The French Navy is placing a frigate at the disposal of the expedition’s crew. The expedition will attempt to finally bring to light and draw conclusions as to the exact circumstances of the shipwrecks. Members of the crew are specialists in metal detecting and the equipment of choice by the expedition is the Deepers MF 2008 multi frequency pulse induction detector and the Deepers Mag 505 magnetometer. The Deepers line of detectors is well known in France and the rest of Europe for its ability to locate metal objects at extreme depths. Like a time machine they allow us to study history and to see into the past.
More to follow…………………we will keep you updated!
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