Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Two Items of Historical Interest

Well, they haven't anything to do with books, but there have been a couple of very neat stories out in the last couple days that I wanted to mention:

- In the Washington Post yesterday, Brigid Schulte wrote on Martha Washington's new look, helped along by a new portrait of the first First Lady created by forensic anthropologists at the Louisiana State University Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Lab. "These are the scientists who do age progressions to determine what kidnapped children might look like as adults. [Historian Patricia] Brady asked whether they could do the same process in reverse: take a middle-aged Martha and, using her bone structure, figure out what she would have looked like as a 25-year-old about to marry the future father of the country." Using a miniature on ivory believed to be an accurate likeness of Martha, the anthropologists created the new image, which Mount Vernon officials liked so well that they had a portrait made which is now hanging in their Visitor Center.

- Divers for Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration say they've found the wreck of H.M.S. Victory, a British warship which sank in 1744. More than 900 men and a fortune in gold (as much as four tons of the stuff) went down with the ship, plus as many as 110 bronze cannon (some of which have been used to identify the wreck). The company has released an analysis [PDF] of the wreck containing the evidence for its identification as the Victory, and they are "in negotiations" with the British Defense Ministry to arrange for recovery/disposition of the wreck.