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Whose beeswax? UO researcher works to continue finding pieces of Nehalem "Beeswax Wreck"

Wooden pieces lay on a table. They are tagged.
Scott Williams
Beeswax Wreck Project
The timbers found from the shipwreck.

A University of Oregon research affiliate made waves last year after he found parts of an ancient shipwreck on the Oregon coast. But he’s not done piecing it together.

Scott Williams is the Executive Director of the Maritime Archeological Society. Last June, he tracked the tides in Nehalem Bay while searching a coastal cave for remnants of the wreck. He had less than an hour to get in and out.

A rocky cliff. Boulders are strewn in the foreground.
Scott Williams
Beeswax Wreck Project
The cliffs where the timber was found.

Researchers have discovered timbers, porcelain, and beeswax blocks, leading it to be dubbed the “Beeswax Wreck.”

Williams said there is always more to learn about the wreck, especially since historical discoveries can provide important insight into the past.

“There’s only three shipwrecks of this kind in all North America, and this is the only one that has wood remains to it," he said. "Just finding the wood helps us understand how the ships were built, helps confirm the ages of the shipwreck through radiocarbon dating.”

The identified artifacts will eventually end up at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History, where several are already in the collection vaults.

Jasmine Lewin was a freelance reporter in 2022 and 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lewin wrote for the University of Oregon quarterly magazine Ethos before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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