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Archive for the ‘Updates from the Queen Anne’s Revenge’ Category

A cannon is raised from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck

Cultural Resources Sec. Susan Kluttz was one of the first people in almost 300 years to see cannons used on Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, as they were recovered from the seafloor late last week. The raising of the two cannons was the culmination of the spring dive season led by state archaeologists in concert with a number of partners and supporters.

She was thrilled to be able to witness such a momentous occasion.

“I’m so proud for North Carolina.” Sec. Kluttz told a reporter from the Jacksonville Daily News after seeing the first cannon raised. “This is such an incredible historic day for our state, and a thrill for me to see something come up from the ocean for the first time in nearly 300 years.”

After visiting the shipwreck site, the secretary also spent time meeting with key project supporters, including Bucky and Wendy Oliver, who hosted a boat trip to the site and whose support has been key in allowing work on the project to continue.

Sec. Kluttz observes the cannon raising.

The trip was a follow up to two trips held in previous weeks to the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, where Sec. Kluttz got to see artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR) project that have been fully conserved and participated in a live stream to nearly 500 classrooms around the country. She’s now seen three parts of the QAR process—underwater archeology, completed conservation and education—and she’s looking forward to seeing a fourth—conservation work in the lab—in the coming weeks.

Though the spring dive season is coming to a close, state archaeologists will head back to the site for a fall dive beginning in August and continuing through October. Check back here and on the project website for updates!

You can also click here to see more photos of the day’s events.

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By Sarah Watkins-Kenney, QAR Lab Director/Chief Conservator

This piece introduces the Queen Anne’s Revenge 12-Step conservation program, by briefly describing processes undertaken in each step of an object’s treatment.  Future blog posts reporting on the progress of different artifacts will identify which step or stage that piece has reached at that time.  In this way you can follow artifacts in their journey from ocean floor to museum door.

Step 1: Recovery

Step 1: Recovery

All artifacts recovered from the Queen Anne’s Revenge (wreck 31CR314) go through a 12 Step Program in their journey from ocean floor to museum door.  The amount of time, type and scope of actual treatment in each step depends on the nature of the object – including its material, size, condition and the type of artifact.

At any one time staff at the QAR Lab may be working with several different artifacts, all at different stages in their particular conservation program.  Over the coming weeks and months, we will report on conservation progress of different types of artifacts as they are treated, recorded and researched at the QAR Lab in Greenville.

Step 1: Recovery = planning, preparation and on-site conservation work which includes: assignment of QAR artifact identification numbers; recovery from seabed; documentation including as recovered photography; wet storage at the dockside and then transfer wet to QAR Lab.

Step 2: Post-Recovery Processing – Analysis I = documentation and cataloguing, measurement, counts, ,basic identification of materials, sorting & preparation for wet storage, creation of lab records, and inventory.

Step 3: Wet Storage = transfer to wet stable storage in solutions appropriate to the type of material. Monitoring solution levels and changing out solutions as needed.

Step 7: Cleaning II

Step 7: Cleaning II

Step 4: Analysis II = assessment & identification of materials, condition, and artifact type. This step includes X-radiography of concretions to “see what is inside” and identification of materials such as wood species.

Step 5: Cleaning I = pre-cleaning documentation including photography to record condition before treatment.  Removal of concretions as needed.

Step 6: Desalination = removal of soluble salts from all objects. For metals by electrolytic reduction (ER); for non-metals by soaking in water; measuring soluble salt levels in changes of solution monitors their extraction from objects.

Step 7: Cleaning II = removal of stains, fine concretion and desalination solution residues from object surfaces.

Step 8: Bulking, Consolidation, Drying = for example replacing water in wood with  Polyethylene Glycol Wax (PEG) followed by controlled air drying or freeze-drying ; and consolidation of glass prior to controlled drying.

Step 10: Analysis and Identification

Step 10: Analysis and Identification

Step 9: Protective coatings = for example, application of protective coatings (lacquers or waxes) to metal artifacts.

Step 10: Analysis III = final Examination & analysis to confirm identification of artifacts and materials made of.

Step 11: Repair/Reconstruction = for example, reconstruction of ceramic vessels, or construction of support mounts to ensure safe handling, and study.

Step 12: Final Documentation = Illustration, final photography, completion of records and documentation including recommendations for storage and display conditions, packing for transfer to the museum.

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­The Tank TeamOn what seemed like the wettest Saturday morning this year, Queen Anne’s Revenge Lab staff, East Carolina University (ECU) faculty and ECU Honors College Students met at the QAR Lab. Despite the cold and the rain all did excellent work!  We were really impressed with how everyone got stuck in with enthusiasm and efficiency whatever the task!  Two of the students were asked to be “journalists’ for the event. Below is their report on the mornings work with photos they took too. The QAR Lab staff would like to thank you all again!

Rainy Days, Spiders, and Anchors, Oh My!
By Sarah Burke and Megan Woodlief

Wet weather and chilly temperatures did little to stop a group of East Carolina University (ECU) Honors College students from participating in a service project at the QAR Lab on Saturday, February 23rd. The twenty five students split into groups after a brief tour of the facilities and assigned tasks that ranged from assisting in the preservation of artifacts to helping keep archived information organized.

The Archives TeamJackie Traish, a Music Performance and Science Education major, said she’d volunteered to come out because of her appreciation for history. “I came out to help because I wanted to be close to a piece of history. It’s amazing to see artifacts that have lasted 300 years.” Jackie was one of six students who spent their time in the lab’s warehouse working to maintain the conditions of the artifacts. Dubbing themselves the “Tank Team,” the students working in the warehouse removed and added freshwater to storage tanks, as well as returned crusted sodium bicarbonate back into full tanks. “The sodium bicarbonate helps maintain the chemistry of the water,” said Nursing major Sam Roebuck.  “It is important to keep things stable.”

Another group of students were assigned to research and received an impromptu physics lesson from Professor Kenney to aid them in the work. “We basically have to figure the best way to insulate the tank [shipping container] is,” said Applied Atmospheric Sciences major, Thomas Vaughan. “The insulation will ensure that artifacts are not exposed to extreme water temps as the weather changes throughout the year.”

Insulation Research on Honors College Day The services done by other students did not relate directly to artifact preservation, but were equally important. Biology major Adrian Modzik was assigned to the cleaning crew and helped vacuum parts of the lab. “My main job was to get rid of the spiders. There’s a BIG spider problem here.”

Martha Ervin’s group didn’t have to deal with the weather or creepy-crawlies – they were warm and dry in the office filing papers. “We actually went through all the files and switched from metal to plastic paper clips so that artifact documentation was not corroded,” said Martha, a Middle Grades Education major.

Despite the miserable weather, every student enjoyed their time spent at the QAR Lab. “We had a great time, and I hope to possibly come back and volunteer in the future,” said Hospitality Management major Megan Woodlief.

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This post is by Queen Anne’s Revenge project Archaeological Technician Terry Williams and Conservation Lab Director and Chief Conservator Sarah Watkins-Kenney.

Pewter has been used for ornamental and utilitarian purposes for over 3000 years.  It is a tin alloy which is durable, relatively easily worked, resistant to corrosion and can be similar to dull silver in appearance.  These qualities can result in pewter objects lasting hundreds of year, often in good condition.

The pewter flatware (plates and dishes) assemblage recovered from the wreck between 1997 and 2010 includes a total of thirty-three pieces– both whole and fragmentary pieces. There are twenty plates, with diameters 9-10 inches, of which seventeen are whole and complete, and thirteen dishes with diameters 15-22 inches of which six are whole and complete.  A number of the plates and dishes have completed conservation and can be seen on display at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort and at the Museum of History in Raleigh. Other pieces are in progress of being cleaned at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Lab.

The condition of the plates and dishes coming from the Queen Anne’s Revenge site has varied; sometimes they are covered in concretion, or attached by concretion to other objects, for example three are still attached to cannon C16. Others have been recovered from site almost looking like they were eaten off yesterday.  There are a variety of methods to clean plates, which fall into either chemical or mechanical methods.  Pewter plate, QAR 3318.001 was recovered in 2010 and is currently in work. Under a microscope with a scalpel, concretion is being removed to reveal the surface of the object. From an x-radiograph of the plate before cleaning we know that there is a maker’s mark on the back of the plate.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as today, many pewter objects were marked with their makers’ unique mark – or touch-mark – as well as secondary marks (such as the Tudor rose and London) and pseudo hallmarks. Makers were required to register their marks with the guild and this information, still available today, allows researchers to set up a timeline.  Not all the pieces from the site are marked or have legible maker’s marks but marks of four London pewter makers have been identified, John Stile(s) (mark registered c. 1689); George Hammond (c. 1695)  Henry Sewdley (c. 1709) and Timothy Fly (c. 1712) (Cotterrell 1963: 315;225;302;209).

The touch-mark of Henry Sewdley has been uncovered, on plate QAR3318.001, as well as the secondary marks of the Tudor rose and London.  Sewdley plates do at times have pseudo hallmarks, though none have been uncovered as yet on this plate….watch this space!  Other marks preserved in the surfaces of many of the plates and dishes are very fine incised lines made by utensils being used to cut up food on them, indicating that these vessels had been used or were in use at the time of the wreck.  Thus these objects not only assist our underwater archaeologists in dating the wreck but also offering insights into past life ways on the ship.

Reference: Cotterrell, Howard Herschel, 1963. Old Pewter and its Makers and Marks.  Tuttle: Rutland, Vermont.

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This post was co-written by Sarah Watkins-Kenney, QAR Lab Director and the Underwater Archaeology Branch’s Chief Conservator and graduate assistants Jeremy Borrelli and Hannah Smith.

The QAR Lab has been located at East Carolina University’s West Research Campus since 2003.  Through this partnership with ECU the QAR Lab is able to provide an exemplary site for contributing to education, training and research in maritime archaeology and conservation of archaeological artifacts. Staff at the QAR Lab has worked with students and researchers from ECU and other universities since 2003.

Each year we interact with ECU students through class visits, lectures, facilitating Master’s thesis research, providing volunteer opportunity and hosting graduate assistantships.  Since 2003, hundreds of students have been touched by our team’s outreach efforts.

This year we are pleased to welcome two new students as graduate assistants at the QAR Lab: Hannah Smith and Jeremy Borrelli. Each tells their story below.

Jeremy Borrelli
My name is Jeremy Borrelli, and I am one of the two new Graduate Assistants working at the QAR Conservation Lab at ECU. I received my undergraduate degree from SUNY New Paltz in Anthropology, with a focus in archaeology. During my tenure at New Paltz, I was involved with several dig sites around the Hudson Valley ranging from a prehistoric hunting camp to a Native American burial to the excavation of a historic stone house. I’ve always had a passion for history so being able to work directly with the physical remains of people from the past is something special for me. I became especially interested in artifacts from historic sites, such as Huguenot Street in New Paltz, where we excavated areas in and around the stone houses.

For the past eight years I’ve probably spent more time in water than I have on land as a competitive swimmer. Along with swimming, I’ve worked as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and Masters swimming coach so it’s safe to say that I have a certain comfort being around water! In 2009, I got SCUBA certified and learned more about the growing field of maritime archaeology. Ironically, I remember reading an article in the magazine Sport Diver about the Divedown program that was offered to divers allowing them to dive the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck in North Carolina. At the time I thought that it was so cool that something so enigmatic had been found and that maybe someday I’d be able to see or work on something like that.

My background in swimming and the water coupled with my interests in archaeology led me to become interested in maritime archaeology. This past August I began graduate school at ECU in the Maritime Studies program. Through the program I was granted a great opportunity to work here at the QAR Conservation Lab; the same wreck that got me interested in and introduced me to maritime archaeology! I am looking forward to interacting with the artifacts and learning from the skilled conservators and archaeologists working on the site as I begin my graduate studies in the field of maritime archaeology.

Hannah Smith
After receiving my B.A. in Studio Art/Art History and German from Bucknell University in 2010, I took a roundabout path to ECU’s M.A. in Anthropology program and the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab.  Originally planning to become an art conservator, I took some time off before applying to graduate school and studied more chemistry and studio art and tried to get more experience in conservation. As a result, I spent a little time in the QAR Lab in the summer of 2010, but never imagined I’d get to come back.

During the summer of 2011, I assisted with William Peace University’s Field School at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site, where I’d been volunteering in a variety of roles since the fall of 2010. Getting to be involved with that dig and running the field lab, reminded me how much I enjoy archaeology.  After spending some time thinking about it and plenty of advice from the people around me, I decided to apply to ECU’s M.A. in Anthropology program, and focus on Historical Archaeology and conservation.  I hope to combine my interest in historical archaeology of the southeastern United States with conservation as I complete my Master’s thesis.  I was thrilled when I found out that I had gotten the Department’s Graduate Assistant position at the QAR Lab and would get to continue working on the archaeological site that started this journey.

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This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we’ll be bringing you each week. 

Strong winds and rain kept us from getting out onsite the first three days of week five.  We were able to keep busy processing ballast stones and panning sediment from exterior units to make sure we didn’t need to extend our excavation limits.  After two days of looking at micro artifacts, the crew was very excited to get a “behind the scenes” tour of the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium from Ethan Simmons on Wednesday.  Thursday and Friday the weather was great, so we finished out the week strong working two very long days on site.

Jonathan Bird of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World was a guest with our project this week.  Originally we planned to have his crew out on site for two days to get some artifact excavation and recovery, and one day in the lab to get the other side of the story.  Weather dictated otherwise, but we were able to get his crew to the lab, to the museum and on site during the course of the week.  Since Thursday was our first day on site in six days, we were not at a point where we could excavate and recover but we did manage to get him on site helping out with some in situ monitoring of anchors and cannon.  We enjoyed having Jonathan and his crew on board and look forward to seeing his show about the QAR.

Thursday was spent digging out part of the pile, exposing large artifacts for corrosion monitoring.  A2 was tested and a new anode was installed to continue cathodic protection.  C7, C6, C11 and C8 were all tested, C6 was the only other cannon that was not so heavily concreted it could accept an anode.  There are three more cannon at the pile to test, so this will be done in the coming week.  Before the end of the season, all artifacts that have had an anode installed will be tested again.

Friday was busy but the crew was able to knock out two more units that were laden with ballast stones and a few large concretions.  By the time we made it back to the dockside it was getting dark so we stored the artifacts in tanks and will complete the dockside documentation in the coming week.  This was a major feat to complete these two units in one day and it wouldn’t have happened without such a great crew!

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This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we’ll be bringing you each week. 

Week four was a very productive week with beautiful weather on our side and by Friday, (09/28) 14 units were complete.  Out of the past four weeks we have actually had 12 working days on site with 145 dives that has covered 350 sq. ft.  The crew is working at a good pace, when we can get out there.  The first three days of week five have been spent on shore due to inclement weather.  There is certainly no shortage of things to do when we are not on site, but most of us would rather be diving!  Ballast stones recovered this year were processed; approximately 775 stones totaling 1,405 lbs (637.3 Kg) have been picked up so far.

The Gird Units Worked This Fall

The great crew we do have working out here is really making the difference because they all put in 110% when it’s needed.  Some are veterans and some are relatively new to the team. Our Captain is Gerry Compeau from UNCW.  The core divers from the UAB offices are Wendy Welsh, Julep Gillman-Bryan, Nathan Henry and Chris Southerly. Our new boss, Billy Ray Morris, has only just joined our team and we hope to get him out on the site soon.  David Moore from the N.C. Maritime Museum at Beaufort is always part of the crew as is underwater videographer Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions LLC. You can learn more about this motley crew on our website.

We’d like to give a special shout out to this year’s archaeological technicians we have. All seasoned divers on the QAR site.

Lisa Briggs received her M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in 2007 and came to the project as a volunteer only a few months later. She returned as a contract employee in 2008 and 2010, and we’re happy to have her back this year. Lisa has surveyed and excavated wrecks in the Caribbean, Greece, Cyprus, the Pacific and the Atlantic, ranging from a Middle Minoan wreck (c.a. 2000 BCE) in Crete to a mid-18th century sloop in the British Virgin Islands. A professional scuba instructor and technical diver, Lisa has explored the reefs and searched for wrecks all over the world but claims QAR is her favorite underwater excavation.

Joshua Marano is a graduate student with East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies as well as a member of the United States Coast Guard Reserve.  Josh is a life-long North Carolina resident and previously volunteered with the QAR project in 2005, 2007 and 2011.  While working on his M.A. thesis on the role of risk in the United States Life-Saving Service along the North Carolina coast, Josh was awarded the highly sought after National Park Service internship with Biscayne National Park. Once QAR fieldwork is over for the season Josh will be spending the next year gaining more invaluable experience in Florida.

Laurel Seaborn is also a graduate student with East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies as well. She worked on the project last year as an intern, getting the opportunity to dive and assist in the lab.  Seaborn has worked  as a captain on sailing ships of all sizes and as a sailing instructor on several seas around the world. Her time aboard tall ships inspired an interest in maritime history and motivated her to return to university to study for a second career in the field of underwater archaeology. Seaborn feels the study of this eighteenth-century pirate shipwreck has been a highlight!

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