Happy New Year!

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Hannah presenting her research on the USS Monitor at the Society for Historical Archaeology Annual Meeting.

Hope everyone had a happy and festive end to 2017. As Lesley’s blog described last week, our last big project was filling the turret tank with a new 1% weight/volume sodium hydroxide solution. Quite the way to finish out the year!

We are now off to a running start for 2018. Most of the team travelled to the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Annual Conference during the first week of January. The conference, held in New Orleans this year, hosts attendees from all over the world and features sessions on both underwater and terrestrial archaeology.   Read more

Filling the Turret Tank: an epic saga in six parts

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The outside auxiliary tanks can hold the turret’s solution while we work or be used to build up new water. The middle “small” tank is where the skeg beam and hull plates are housed.

Turret Season is officially over! Last week we changed the solution in the turret tank and hooked it back up to its electrolytic reduction (ER) system. This is a long and exhausting process which takes about a week to complete. Let’s look at the steps involved in readying the turret for the off-season.

Thursday, A week out:   Read more

Mystery solved!

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Discussing Raman analyses results. From left to right: Ralph Spohn, chemist volonteer at TMMP; Olga Trofimova, laboratory and research technician at the ARC of William and Mary; Qijue Wang, PhD student at William and Mary.

Hi all,

We have been doing a lot of reorganizing of the lab recently in order to make room for two new employees joining us soon: an objects conservator, who will be working on the museum’s collection (not Monitor related) and a chemist, who will be in charge of ALL the analyses we do here. This is very exciting for us on so many levels! For the current Monitor crew, a chemist position means that we will all stop spending almost half of our work time running the ion chromatograph or checking the potential of artifacts in electrolytic reduction… a chemist means sooo much more time for us all to be hands on objects. This is really outstanding and we cannot wait to pass on this work load to someone else!   Read more

Into Storage We Go!

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Final image of Yorktown gun

It’s time for an update on the Yorktown gun! In the last blog post, the Yorktown gun was dry ice blasted and beginning desalination to get rid of those pesky chlorides. Since then the gun has been fully desalinated, dried, and given a protective coating to prevent future corrosion. Now the gun is ready for storage until it is time to be displayed again.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, STORAGE?? I wanted to see it back on display on the York River!” which is a fair thought. But as we’ve mentioned before, chlorides and high humidities can cause corrosion in archaeological iron, so to display a newly conserved cannon on a brackish river in the middle of Virginia might not be the best idea. However, we did have the gun 3-D scanned in order to make a cast model. The cast will be displayed in the gun’s place, so it will be just like having the original gun out on the York River again.    Read more

Personal touch!

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Crewmen relaxing on deck, while the ship was in the James River, Virginia, on 9 July 1862. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Thanks to NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the “Morgan Trust” (i.e. Marietta McNeil Morgan & Samuel Tate Morgan, Jr. Foundation), there is a new exhibit case in the USS Monitor Center!
This one is celebrating the two gentlemen found in the turret during excavation in 2002. Their facial reconstructions are on display as well as their belongings, most of which were located in what would have been their pockets.

The majority of their clothes were not preserved, which insinuates that they were primarily made of vegetal fibers (cotton, linen…). During burial, the turret environment became slightly acidic due to metal corrosion and only animal fibers have the capacity to resist such conditions (hence the reason why 80% of a wool coat was preserved).
It is a poignant display. Each and every one of us can relate to what these men were wearing and carrying in their pockets during their last moments, even if it was 155 years ago… Come and see it for yourself! You will find this new case in the large artifact gallery of the USS Monitor Center. See you soon!!   Read more