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Bill Could Help Revive Virginia's Underwater Archaeology Program

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Battlefields and monuments are visible relics of the past, but much of the Commonwealth’s history remains below the surface.

In an effort to preserve Virginia’s maritime heritage, one delegate has proposed a state-sponsored underwater archaeology program.

The Betsy sat on the bottom of the York River for almost two hundred years before a team found the scuttled ship in the 1970s. The artifacts they uncovered offered a window into Colonial life and are now on display at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. 

But the initiative, led by John Broadwater, lost its funding in 1989. That’s unfortunate, he says, "because Virginia has a maritime history that’s second to none."

Delegate Betsy Carr -- no relation to the ship -- has requested $160,000 for a new iteration of the underwater archaeology program. 

Broadwater says the money isn’t enough for another excavation, but it would provide for research that could reveal an invisible past.  "It’s not being reflected in the literature and the research and it’s not being reflected in the public education program."

Last year the Department of Historic Resources asked Governor Northam’s administration to bankroll the study of submerged cultural resources, but the request went unacknowledged in his proposed budget.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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