Underwater Archaeology with AutoCAD

The Wreck of HMS Pandora
1984 Expedition

In 1790, the Royal Navy frigate HMS Pandora was dispatched to the South Pacific in pursuit of the mutineers who had taken HMS Bounty and set its captain, William Bligh, adrift. In March 1791, Pandora arrived in Tahiti, and by early April a total of 14 of the 25 mutineers had been taken prisoner; despite a search of numerous other islands, none of the others were found. After abandoning the search, Pandora set sail to return the prisoners for trial, but on August 29th, 1791, the ship struck the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and sank with a loss of 35, including four Bounty prisoners. The site of the wreck was forgotten.

In November 1977 the wreck was rediscovered, and starting in 1983, the Queensland Museum mounted a series of underwater archaeology expeditions to the site which continued through 1999. In 1984, AutoCAD was there, being used to create the grid and artefact maps by which objects were located and catalogued. The following contemporary slides show both the archaeologists at work and some of the drawings they created. These are screen shots which I believe to have been taken from a NEC APC—that is the only machine I'm aware of which placed the status line at the bottom of the graphics area instead of the customary top. (Why? See question number 69 in the Autodesk Trivia Quiz.)

This is certainly the first use of AutoCAD in underwater archaeology and, given the rarity of such projects and the modest budget of most archaeological expeditions, perhaps the first use of any CAD system in underwater archaeology.

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