In May 2007, the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, in cooperation with the Oceanography Department at Texas A&M University and the Mineral Management Servie, conducted a partial excavation on a deep water shipwreck 4016 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico.
From 1981 through 1990, Dr. Donny Hamilton excavated the 17th-century sunken city of Port Royal, Jamaica. The following project reports present some of the conservation procedures used on many of the recovered artifacts. The reports also illustrate the problems encountered when conserving waterlogged material. For an example, see the report on a wood/iron carpenter's chisel.
When the Texas Historical Commission arranged for CRL to conserve all of the excavated material from La Salle's 17th-century ship, the Belle - including the ship herself- we knew it would be a great challenge. Few, if any, shipwrecks excavated in the United States have contained the quantity and variety of material found on the Belle. New conservation procedures have been developed for this project, and a new conservation vat was built especially for treating the ship's hull. This vat is the largest wood conservation facility in the United States.
The following research reports illustrate some of the problems we have encounterd while conserving the Belle and her hold. More will be added as work progresses.
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Over the past decade, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, in conjunction with the Nautical Archaeology Program at TAMU, has excavated some of the world's most significant shipwrecks. The projects include a 13th-century B.C. wreck at Cape Gelidonya, Turkey; a 14th-century B.C. wreck at Uluburun, Turkey; a 4th-century B.C. Greek merchant vessel in Kyrenia, Cyprus; an 11th-century A.D. shipwreck at Serce Limani, Turkey; as well as a variety of other ships and ports, including the 17th-century town of Port Royal, Jamaica. Various conservation problems encountered in these excavations will be presented from time to time at this web site. The following report is an interesting case of a possible ceramic fire pot found on the Santo Antonio de Tanna, a 17th-century Portuguese ship excavated by the Institute in Mombasa, Kenya, in cooperation with the Fort Jesus Museum.
In addition to the projects of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the Nautical Archaeology Program, CRL conserves artifacts from projects sponsored by other organizations. The first report presents the conservation of a 3-lb. Union field cannon captured by Confederate forces at the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, and brought to Texas. It was buried near Fairfield, Texas, just after the Civil War by the Confederate forces to keep from handing it over to the Union. When Grover Cleveland was elected president in 1885, the cannon was dug up and fired at inaugural celebrations held in Texas. The gun has played a prominent role in 4th of July celebrations for decades in Fairfield Court and was even fired until recently. The cannon was in need of some conservation to stabilize it after decades of being displayed on the courthouse lawn in Fairfield.
Another interesting report documents the conservation of select artifacts recovered from an 18th-century British sloop that was found in waters off the Florida coast. The excavation of the ship and the conservation of the artifacts are being undertaken at CRL by Southern Oceans Archaeological Research, Inc., an organization based in St. Augustine Florida.
A redwood irrigation pipe section was found on a golf course near San Francisco, California. More on that later.