Why there's a swastika on this artifact in Rockport

There's a new anchor greeting visitors to the Texas Maritime Museum with quite the controversial symbol on it -- but don't worry. It has a backstory.

ROCKPORT (KIII NEWS) - There's a new anchor greeting visitors to the Texas Maritime Museum with quite the controversial symbol on it -- but don't worry. It has a backstory.

It's a stockless anchor manufactured by Byers & Sunderland back in 1931 and lost sometime after. It was recovered in 2015 almost 100 miles offshore of Louisiana during offshore oil and gas clearance operations and delivered to Texas A&M University's Conservation Research Laboratory for conservation.

While the Byers anchor is not associated with any historic shipwreck, its flukes have markings with a great deal of history. The left fluke has a diamond with the words "W.L. Byers & Co. Ltd. of Sunderland," and on the center of its right fluke there is square set swastika.

However, it is not to be confused with the infamous Nazi swastika.

Before Germany's Nazi Party embraced the swastika, it was found in many archaeological contexts. According to officials at the Texas Maritime Museum, Byers was fascinated with archaeological work in what was believed to be the ancient city of Troy in the late 19th century. Numerous artifacts were found, including pottery and sculptures with the swastika symbol. As the symbol continued to be found at dig sites, the swastika became more prominent and was used to represent good luck or good fortune.

Museum officials said the symbol even made its way to products like Coca-Cola bottles, scouting materials and American military uniforms. It also made its way to the Byers & Sunderland line of anchors as a good luck charm.

Over time, of course, the swastika took on a new meaning because of Germany's Nazi party. Eventually, W.L. Byers & Co. Ltd., discontinued the use of the swastika.

On Tuesday, a company out of Needville, Texas, hauled the Byers anchor to the Texas Maritime Museum and installed the artifact in the northeast corner of the museum property. Officials said there will be signs there to explain to visitors the story behind the anchor's markings.

© 2017 KIII-TV


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