Thursday, August 13, 2015

Early Archaeological ‘Discovery’ from the Air in the Middle East – 1912

Not an aeroplane this time but a dirigible … and it was an accidental discovery … and not on land … and already known … Apart from all that … it is still of interest and relevance.

The ‘Foreign News’ section of the January 1913 issue of Aircraft magazine carries a short report of a discovery made by Italian forces just after the end of the Italo–Turkish War (September 29, 1911 to October 18, 1912) which had resulted in Italy’s annexation of Libya.



After it had run aground in 1803 during a Barbary Expedition of the US Navy, and its crew been forced to surrender, the USS Philadelphia had been deliberately destroyed by other US forces to prevent it falling into the hands of Tripolitanian corsairs.

Contemporary newspapers of 1913 in the United States reported the discovery … then later published a further report that the wreck had already been discovered in 1904 by a British scholar who had even sent parts of its timber including an embedded cannonball to the US Naval Academy Museum. So, at best a re-discovery but certainly an example of spotting from the air over water. And, according to a US newspaper of the time, the Italian ‘aeronauts’, had taken photographs.

The Italo–Turkish War involved a number of ‘firsts’ for aviation - all Italian as the Turks had no aircraft: the first aerial reconnaissance, the first bombing from the air and the first aircraft shot down.

DLK

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