Adventures in Archaeology

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This past weekend, a few of us from the Monitor Lab got to go on a grand adventure to learn about one of our favorite topics, archaeology! (Conservation of course will always be number one in my heart, but archaeology runs a close second) The Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference(MAAC) was hosted this year in Virginia Beach, and not only were we able to attend, but we were accepted to present in the conference as well.

MAAC kindly allowed staff from the Monitor Lab and some of our colleagues from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, to form a session specifically on Archaeological Conservation. The lectures ranged from the conservation of archaeological objects, to explaining some of the science behind conservation. Kate talked about some of the many makers marks discoveries made through conservation. And below is an images of Hannah, discussing how technology can be used to bring both conservation and archaeology to the public!

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Civil War Lecture on Dry Ice Blasting this Saturday!

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Laurie dry icing at the tank farm
Laurie dry icing at the tank farm

Do you love reading about the details of our conservation treatments? Are you dying to hear more about dry ice blasting? Are you going to be in the Hampton Roads area this weekend? If so you may want to consider your Saturday afternoon already booked!

Please join us this Saturday, September 10th from 2:30-3:30 for the Civil War Lecture:  Keeping it Cool! We will be discussing dry ice cleaning at the USS Monitor Center, explaining how dry ice cleaning works, including the details of our research and testing procedure. You’ll also hear about upcoming research being undertaken with dry ice, and how this new research will speed up the treatment of the USS Monitor objects.

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Dry Ice Blasting: Yorktown Guns Addition

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York Town Gun before Dry Ice Blasting
York Town Gun before Dry Ice Blasting

This week we’re taking a detour from your usual Turret updates for some Dry Ice Blasting! After quite a bit of research we figured out the best settings for Dry Ice Blasting on cast iron (previously we’ve only treated wrought iron with this method) and our first application is for the treatment of a pair of British guns from The Revolutionary War.  These guns were part of the armament on transport vessels supporting General Lord Cornwallis’s British army during the Yorktown Campaign. The guns were sunk when Cornwallis ordered the transport vessels to be sunk as obstructions, to prevent the nearby French fleet from coming to the aid of General George Washington’s troops.

The guns were raised from the York River in 1934 through a joint effort by The Mariners’ Museum, National Park Service, and Newport News Shipyard, and they’ve lived happily on and off display at both Yorktown and The Mariners’ Museum. But as you can see, they need a little TLC before they can be displayed again.

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Dry Ice Blasting!

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Hello Everyone!  I know that lately the blog has been abounding with news about new additions to the conservation team, but prepare for a little Déjà vu, as I’m writing this post to introduce myself as the newest member. My name is Laurie King, and I joined the team at the beginning of April as an Assistant Conservator. My main focus will be researching techniques for using solid CO2 (or Dry Ice Blasting) to remove corrosion from USS Monitor objects. I am a recent graduate from Cardiff University, and prior to that I actually spent my free time as a conservation volunteer with the USS Monitor Center.  I am so thrilled to be back and to be working on the Monitor!

As long time readers will know, the removal of corrosion from metals can be a long process, involving a lot of detailed and time consuming work.  The removal of corrosion isn’t just so the object will look nice and to reveal surface details; if corrosion remains on the surface it can trap salts in the object and cause corrosion in the future! When it comes to USS Monitor objects, this corrosion can be inches thick in some areas, making it a very painstaking process to remove the corrosion with smaller tools, like scalpels, dental tools, or air scribes.  This is especially true when working on something as large as the turret or the gun carriages!

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