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Help Identify a Mystery Artifact

Over the past 13 years, NOAA archaeologists and Mariners’ Museum conservators have discovered hundreds of amazing artifacts within USS Monitor‘s revolving gun turret. Some artifacts, like the Dahlgren guns, gun carriages, and gun tools, are undergoing conservation as I type this blog entry. Others have already been fully conserved and are now on display within the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum or have been loaned to other institutions around the country to help share Monitor‘s fascinating stories.

However, there are handful of artifacts that continue to mystify us in the lab, particularly those that have been fully conserved but not properly identified. It may sound strange or surprising that in the last 13 years we have not successfully identified every single artifact from the turret. But this is often the case when many materials are excavated from an archaeological setting.

Please examine the following pictures of a mystery artifact:

What do we know about this artifact? It was excavated from USS Monitor‘s gun turret, thoroughly embedded in layers of thick concreted sediment. It was not attached to anything. It is made of a copper alloy, likely bronze or brass. It is the shape of a 5-point star with rounded edges. Each point has a small dimple. The artifact is approximately 3/4″ tall x 3/4″ wide. Threads have been cut into the artifacts indicating that it was likely screwed onto the end of another object. It appears decorative but could also be utilitarian. It could have been attached to a component of the turret, or it could have been part of another object that was carried into the turret the night Monitor sank off Hatteras, NC.

What is this artifact? What purpose did it serve? How was it used? Why was this found in archaeological sediment inside the gun turret? We don’t have any of these answers and we need your help to solve this historical mystery. Please help us identify this Mystery Artifact.

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