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A doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic killed 129 men. Now the ship’s artifacts have been found ‘frozen in time.’



For more than 170 years, the HMS Terror rested beneath the frigid waters of the Canadian Arctic Ocean holding the secrets to an infamously fatal expedition – until a sunny day earlier this month, when a little robot plunged into the sea to try to find them.

On a cable, Canadian and Inuit researchers guided it to the shipwreck and below the deck, eager to see what the remote-controlled underwater vehicle might find. It would mark the first major exploration of the doomed ship since dozens of men abandoned it after it became trapped in ice during a dangerous 1845 mission to chart the Northwest Passage. There were no survivors, and both the Terror and its sister ship, the HMS Erebus, disappeared beneath the icy surface, where they would stay until 2014 and 2016, when each ship was discovered.

Now, the Inuit and Canadian governments announced Wednesday, researchers are a step closer to unraveling the enduring mystery of the disasters: Inside the HMS Terror, the robot-like underwater explorer found a ship so well preserved that its artifacts seemed to be “essentially frozen in time,” Parks Canada said.

“The impression we witnessed when exploring the HMS Terror is of a ship only recently deserted by its crew, seemingly forgotten by the passage of time,” Ryan Harris, a Parks Canada archaeologist who piloted the remote-controlled underwater vehicle, said in a statement.

Inside the ship, glass plates were still stacked neatly on shelves. Wine bottles and jugs encased in silt still stood upright in wooden niches and rifles still hung on the walls, encased in rust. In the ship’s 20 separate rooms, drawers in the dressers and desks were still tightly shut – the most tantalizing discovery in the eyes of the archaeologists.

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