Mystery object: part II

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Thanks to Riverside Regional Medical Center, our “mystery object” received a CT scan a few weeks ago!
We are so grateful for the help our health care neighbors provided with the project.
Also, thank you all for the many suggestions last month on what could be trapped within this concretion!
So… what did we find?!
A whole lot of precious information for conservation purposes!
First of all, the CT scan confirmed that any metallic material left within the concretion is fully mineralized, in other words, there is no more metal left, only metallic corrosion products.
Second, we now know that there is a LOT of leather left inside this concretion. The object is composed of many leather straps, sometimes up to 7 of them stacked on top of one another. See these pictures of cross sections of the concretion:

Cross-section of the concretion showing stacked straps of leather.
Another view of the concretion showing stacked straps of leather.

In the following picture, an o-ring can be seen from which at least two small straps depart (yellow arrow). On one of these straps, stiches can be seen (red arrows).

Longitudinal views of the concretion showing an o-ring and associated straps

Bottom line: we still do not know what the artifact is. However, according to the amount of leather straps, it very well could be a US Navy full dress belt and sword rig like the one we have in the museum’s collection (see picture below).

U.S. Navy full dress belt and sword rig (1875-1905), The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Unfortunately the leather is in very poor condition. So much so that the conservation treatment started with a full consolidation of the artifact.

As mentioned in the previous blog on the topic, Hannah will be monitoring the conservation progress with 3D modelling of the pieces throughout the process. Get ready to follow the conservation outcome of this mystery artifact!

Wishing everyone a nice end of week and great weekend!

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