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January 03, 2005

Hunley

Continuing archaeological work on the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy warship, has produced a variety of approaches to preserving the array of materials that have been recovered.

The artifacts have taken scientists into uncharted waters. While preserving cork is nearly impossible, scientists are trying to find a way to save the corks that were used for stoppers on the Hunley crew's canteens. Paul Mardikian, the Hunley's senior conservator, and others on the project have used freeze-drying to remove the seawater from most things found in the Hunley. Or the items have been soaked in fresh water and chemical baths to leech out the saltwater that threatens to destroy them.

"A button seems like a simple artifact, but it's not," Mardikian says. "Some of the buttons are hollow and have seawater inside. They have threads of cloth attached to them. They are faded in some places, except where the thread protected them."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at January 3, 2005 11:03 AM

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