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Researchers Study Old Wooden Ship Remains on Florida Beach

FILE - Roman numerals mark a timber from an old French frigate at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas, Oct. 22, 2014. Similar carvings have been found on the wooden ribs of a section of an old sailing ship that has washed ashore on a Florida beach.

A 48-foot section of an old sailing ship has washed ashore on a Florida beach, thrilling researchers who are rushing to study it before it's reclaimed by the sea.

The Florida Times-Union reports the well-preserved section of a wooden ship's hull washed ashore overnight Tuesday on Florida's northeastern coast.

Researchers with the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum have been documenting the artifact and say it could date back as far as the 1700s.

Museum historian Brendan Burke told the newspaper that evidence suggests the vessel was once sheeted in copper, and that crews found Roman numerals carved on its wooden ribs.

Researchers rushed to photograph and measure the wreckage. The photos will be used to create a 3-D model.