Hunting New England Shipwreck

Wreckhunter Artifact Quiz

Welcome to our Artifact Quiz. This quiz will test your knowledge of ship and maritime artifacts. A number of artifact pictures are shown below. Click on the thumbnail images to see larger views, then try to identify them. To see if you've got them right, hover your screen pointer over the orange Answer buttons, or click on the buttons, and answers will appear. Good Luck and Enjoy!

Artifact 61
artcon1-oct05.jpg (27299 bytes)This decorated post protrudes near the bow of the USS Constititution. Posts like this were used on old sailing ships to help maneuver the anchors. What is this post called called?

It has a carved cat's head on the outer end and is called a cathead.

Artifact 60
artcon2-oct05.jpg (28251 bytes)
This brass wheel (about 3" in diameter) was found on a 20th Century shipwreck. The row of beads and the numbers (0-9) on the rim are keys to its identity. What is this wheel?

Probably part of a number display on a liquid pump or meter.

Artifact 59
artcon1-sep05.jpg (20712 bytes)
This device has been used on navy ships for centuries. It's overall length is about 5 inches. What is it?

A Bosun's (boatswain's) pipe or whistle. Used to call the crew's attention.


Artifact 58
artcon2-sep05.JPG (34228 bytes)
This precision device was commonly found on ships in the 1800s. What is it?

A chronometer - a high-accuracy clock used on board ships for celestial navigation measurements.


Artifact 57
artcon1-aug05.gif (43854 bytes)
These pipes are used on ships to feed lines and anchor chains through the hull. The ones shown are on the USS Constitution. What are they called?

Hawse Pipe


Artifact 56
artcon2-aug05.jpg (40646 bytes)This patented lubricating device for early steam engines was so preferred by engineers and engine designers that it became known by a special name. That name is now used to describe "the best" of many product types. What is the name?

The Real McCoy, patented by Elijah McCoy

Artifact 55
artcon1-jun05.jpg (9653 bytes)
The round object at right is found on almost all ships and boats. What is it called?

Compass Card or Compass Rose



Artifact 54
artcon2-jun05.jpg (44162 bytes)This cooking setup is on the deck of the old whaling ship Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport. What is it called?

Try Works, used for rendering whale blubber

Artifact 53
artcon1-may05.jpg (92518 bytes)
During World War II, several thousand freighters, like the one shown at right, were mass produced in shipyards around the United States. What is the common name for these ships?

Liberty ships

Artifact 52
artcon2-may05.jpg (38332 bytes)The steel structure shown at right is a common component of modern ships. The overall height of this one is about 4 feet. The rounded part on top is a clue to its identity. What is this structure?

Pillow block or prop shaft support. The rounded thing on top is the bottom half of a bearing.

Artifact 51
artcon1-mar05.JPG (39109 bytes)
What is the name of the ship fitting shown at right?

Capstan or Anchor Windlass


Artifact 50
artcon2-mar05.JPG (15795 bytes)What is the black metal object shown at right?

A floating contact mine


Artifact 49
artcon1-feb05.jpg (42924 bytes)
The metal ring device shown at right used to be a common fixture on ships. What is it?

Radio Direction Finder (RDF) antenna


Artifact 48
artcon2-feb05.jpg (26453 bytes)Prismatic lighthouse lenses, like the one at right, have a special name. What are they called?

Fresnel Lens



Artifact 47
artcon2-jan05.jpg (8538 bytes)
A symbol like this is commonly found on the hulls of  large ships worldwide. What is it called?

Plimsoll line or load line - international waterline indicator for maximum load. The different lines are for different seas and weather conditions.



Artifact 46
portland-sonar3.jpg (36892 bytes)The sonar image at right shows the sidewheel steamer Portland wreck in Massachusetts Bay. In that image, a large angular object  rises above the rest of the wreck. Note its shadow in the foreground. What is that angular object?

Walking beam - for transfering power to the sidewheels.

Artifact 45
artcon-dec03-1.jpg (63903 bytes)
What is the tall open-topped object in the middle of the picture?

A ventilator


Artifact 44
artcon-dec04-2.jpg (38672 bytes)Duplicates of the two objects at right are mounted beside each cannon on the warship USS Constitution in Boston Harbor. What are these objects?

A worm and rammer. The worm was used to remove debris; the rammer was used to ram the powder charge into place. Both were used with a wood pole.

Artifact 43

artcon1-oct04.JPG (23673 bytes)
This concrete tower south of Boston was one of many built on the New England coast some years back. What was the purpose of these towers?

Submarine lookout tower from World War II


Artifact 42
artcon2-oct04.jpg (7822 bytes)This large gold coin was minted in a Spanish-American colony in the 1600s. What is the common name for this type of coin?

Doubloon or Cob. Not a Real or Piece of Eight; they are silver coins. Cobs are hand-made coins of either silver or gold.


Artifact 41

artcon1-aug04.jpg (10698 bytes)
The steel pins shown at right were commonly used in ship construction in the 1800s and early 1900s. Their size ranged up to 6 inches in length. What are these pins called? Hint - Rosie used lots of them.


Artifact 40
artcon2-aug04.jpg (29393 bytes)Steam-powered workboats like the one shown at right were common in American harbors in the early 1900s. They were used primarily to load and unload cargo. What is the common name for this type of workboat? Hint - it's not a tugboat.

Artifact 39
artcon1a-jul04.jpg (20624 bytes)
Crude Spanish-American silver coins like the one shown at right were used in  worldwide trade in the 1600s and 1700s. These coins were made in several denominations. What is the common name of these coins?

These hand-made silver coins are called reales (reals) or cobs. The one shown is an 8-reale coin, or piece of eight. Reales were also made as 2-reale and 4-reale coins.


Artifact 38
artcon2-jul04.jpg (8530 bytes)The large iron balls on the ship's binnacle (compass stand) at right serve an important purpose. Their closeness to the compass can be adjusted. What is the purpose of these iron balls?

These compensating balls are used to adjust (or compensate) the compass to overcome deviations caused by magnetic materials (iron and steel) in the ship's hull, etc.


Artifact 37
artcon-jun04-1.JPG (8940 bytes)The girl at right is using a navigation instrument. What is it called?



Artifact 36
artcon-jun04-2.jpg (14506 bytes)In honor of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Europe, here's a timely question. On D-Day, the beaches of Normandy were lined with thousands of these steel-beam barricades. Their common name is the same as that of a small wild animal. What are they called?


artcon-apr04-1.jpg (32104 bytes)Artifact 35
The brass object at right is an early navigation instrument. What is it called?



artcon-apr04-2.jpg (32665 bytes)Artifact 34
Strings of buoys like these were commonly seen at harbor entrances during World Wars I and II. What was their purpose?

To hold up anti-submarine nets

Artifact 33

artcon-mar04-1.JPG (24442 bytes)The enclosed ship's stairway at right has a special name. What is it called?


Artifact 32
artcon-mar04-2.JPG (24534 bytes)This brass and glass object at right was recovered from an old steamship. It is about 12 inches long. What is it?

Sight gauge or sight glass - shows water level in a boiler

artcon-feb04-1.jpg (19253 bytes)
Artifact 31
These brass objects were recovered from the Anransas wreck off Cape Cod. They are about 3 inches in diameter. What are they?

Oil lamp heads.

Artifact 30
artcon-feb04-2.jpg (68620 bytes) This brass object was a common piece of equipment on ships in the past century. It is about 3 feet tall. What is it?

Hand-pumped fog horn. These were common equipment on ships a century ago.


Artifact 29

artcon-jan04-1.jpg (25889 bytes) The porcelain object at right was an important piece of personal equipment in days gone by. What is it?

Chamber pot or thunder mug. They always had a cover and were used a lot before the days of indoor toilets.


Artifact 28
artcon-jan04-2.jpg (33826 bytes) The rusted and cracked iron object at right was originally about 6 inches in diameter. It was submerged in salt water for 100 years. What is it?

Cannon ball


Artifact 27
artcon1-nov03.JPG (18129 bytes)The brass object at right was recovered from the steamer Rhode Island wreck in Narragansett By. It is about 5 inches long. What is it?

Tackle block

Artifact 26
artcon2-nov03.JPG (35747 bytes)The World War I German submarine U-117 was studied by the U.S. Navy after the war (photo at right). What was the function of the saw-toothed edge on the bow?

A submarine net cutter - for cutting steel nets in harbors.

Artifact 25

artcon-oct03-1.jpg (57305 bytes)We found the brass object at right in the Maritime Museum in Halifax, NS. It is about 18 inches wide. What is it?

Builders plaque - usually includes builder's name, hull number and year built

Artifact 24
artcon-oct03-2.jpg (25943 bytes)The artifact at right is displayed in the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA. It is about 10 feet long. What is it?

Compound steam engine or triple-expansion steam engine. The steam cylinders are shown. The connecting rods and crank shaft are below the cylinders. For more info, see the message board post dated Nov 2.

Artifact 23
artcon-sep03-1.jpg (23003 bytes)The brass object at right was recovered from the steamer Rhode Island wreck in Narragansett Bay. What is it?


Artifact 22

artcon-sep03-2a.jpg (36250 bytes)The equipment set at right was commonly used on ships in the past century. What is it?

Taffrail log - used to measure the distance traveled. The meter was clamped to the taffrail (rail at stern) and the fish was towed behind the ship.

Artifact 21
artcon-aug03-1.jpg (9251 bytes)The object at right is from an old ship. What is it?

Engine-order telegraph - used to communicate between the bridge and the engine room. There was one of these units on each end, connected by mechanical cables.


Artifact 20
artcon-aug03-2.jpg (23457 bytes)
The picture at right shows a ship artifact partially buried on the seafloor. The round part is about 12 inches in diameter. What is the artifact?

Engine-order telegraph


Artifact 19
artcon-jul03-1.jpg (60211 bytes)A century ago, hardwood dowels, like the one at right, were commonly used to fasten the hull frames of wooden ships. Note the expansion wedge in the end of the dowel. What are these dowels called?

Treenail or trunnel


Artifact 18
artcon-jul03-2.jpg (49359 bytes)
The yellow cylindrical object at right was recovered from the Steamer Rhode Island wreck, sunk in Narragansett Bay in 1880. It is hard as a rock, has a subtle chemical smell, and was a common household item in the past century. What is it?

Sulfur fumigating candle.  These candles were burned to rid buildings of rodents and bugs. There's nothing nastier than the fumes from burning sulfur.

Artifact 17

artcon-jun03-1.jpg (23283 bytes)The bronze hardware at right was recovered from an old steamship. The large pulleys are about 4 inches in diameter. What was this hardware used for? Hint - think communication.

Linkage for engine order telegraph


Artifact 16
artcon-jun03-2.jpg (24670 bytes)
The tackle block at right was recovered from the Joseph S. Zeman wreck in Maine. It's a type of deadeye, but has a special name. What is it called?

Heart - a rigging block used to adjust line tension

Artifact 15
artcon-may03.jpg (36126 bytes)The bronze object at right was recovered from the wreck of the mine sweeper USS Grouse, off Rockport, MA. The outer ring is about 6 inches in diameter. What is it?

Gun Sight

Artifact 14
artcon-apr03.jpg (32897 bytes)The brass object at right was recovered from the steamer Pinthis wreck. Its height is about 4 feet. What is it?

Steam whistle



Artifact 13
artcon-mar03.jpg (23614 bytes)The wood and brass object at right was recovered from a New England wreck. What is it?

A binnacle or compass stand



Artifact 12
artcon-feb03.jpg (15920 bytes)We found the wood artifact at right displayed in a hotel lobby in the Florida Keys. Its overall length is about 5 feet. What is it?

Ship's figurehead

Artifact 11
artcon-jan03.jpg (15663 bytes)Since many people had trouble identifying last month's artifact, this month's will be an easy one. The lantern at right is a reproduction of an important piece of equipment from an old ship. What is it? Note that the color of the lens is a clue to its identity.

Port running light


Artifact 10
artcon-dec02.jpg (23977 bytes)The artifact at right was recovered from an old steam tug. It is made of brass and its overall length is approximately 6 inches. What is it?

Greaser, or grease cup -- used to inject grease into the bearings of engine linkages, etc. These greasers were mounted on the outside of the bearing housings. A turn of the handle would inject a small amount of grease.

Artifact 9
artcon-nov02.JPG (14991 bytes)The photo at right was taken last summer by NOAA researchers on the wreck of the Steamer Portland in Massachusetts Bay. It shows two large iron objects from the deck of the vessel. What are these objects?

Bollards, used for securing docking lines. Several people called them bitts, which is also an acceptable answer. Others called them cleats. Cleats are a different type of device for securing lines, but they had the right idea, so we accepted that answer too.


Artifact 8
artcon-oct02.JPG (27156 bytes)The clear glass objects at right are used in ship construction and are found mostly on old ships and classic yachts. The right one was recovered from an old wreck; the left one is new.  The typical diameter is 4-5 inches. What are they?

Deck prisms. These glass prisms are inserted (pointed side down) in a ship's deck to distribute daylight into areas below deck.

Artifact 7
artcon-sep02.JPG (17639 bytes)The device at right was used on most World War II German U-boats. No, it's not a typewriter, what is it?

Enigma code machine. This device was used to encode and decode transmitted messages.

Artifact 6
artcon-aug02.JPG (12682 bytes)The dark brown structural member at right is used extensively in the construction of wooden ships. What is the nautical name for this object?

Knee. Knees are angled wood supports or brackets used in ship construction. They come in all sizes.

Artifact 5
artcon-jul02.gif (14445 bytes)In the old days, the apparatus at right was used to rescue people from shipwrecks that occurred near shore. What is the name of this apparatus?

Breeches buoy. A small cannon was used to shoot a light line from shore to a stranded ship nearby. People on the ship then pulled heavier lines from shore and rigged them to a mast or other high point. The breeches buoy (a ring buoy with attached canvas shorts or breeches) was then used to transfer stranded people to shore.

Artifact 4
dog-knocker.JPG (20460 bytes)The handsome door knocker at right was made from a shipwreck artifact. What is the artifact?

Porthole dog


Artifact 3
zeman-art.JPG (37175 bytes)The two bronze objects at right were recovered from the wreck of the wood-hulled schooner Joseph S. Zeman. They work together as a set. What are they?

The parts of a rudder hinge. The top one (pintle) is attached to the rudder. The bottom one (gudgeon) is attached to the stern post. Large wooden ships typically have three or more rudder hinges.

Artifact 2
ctool-wrc.JPG (19710 bytes)The brass object at right was found on the wreck of the USS Yankee. Its longest dimension is 8 inches and it originally had a cylindrical wood handle on the shaft end. What is it? Hint, note that the flared end looks something like a shoe horn.

Diver's cuff tool. It originally had a wood handle over the long shaft. This tool was used like a shoe horn to help hard-hat divers get their dry suits on and off.

Artifact 1
artcon-0203.JPG (24590 bytes)To get you started, our first question is an easy one... What is the name of the wood object pictured at right? Many of them were used on old sailing ships. Their size ranges up to 12 inches in diameter. Caution, similar objects with different hole configurations have different names.

Deadeye. Deadeyes were usually made of a hard, self-lubricating wood called Lignum vitae. They were used to adjust the tension on the standing rigging - the lines that support the masts. On most modern sailing ships, turnbuckles are used in place of deadeyes.


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