Current Projects at the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M Univerisity

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

The Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) is one of the oldest and largest archaeological conservation labs focusing on underwater cultural heritage material in the world. A combination of cutting edge facilities and highly experienced conservators have allowed the CRL to expertly conserve millions of artifacts, from small personal artifacts to entire shipwrecks. This session aims to give a brief overview of several of the many ongoing projects currently underway at the lab, ranging from the massive undertakings of conserving the iron-clad civil war ships CSS Georgia and USS Westfield, to the smaller nuanced projects like the Brother Jonathan chest and the World Trade Center shipwreck. Presentations will focus on conservation techniques as well as the associated research, which includes several thesis and dissertation topics for graduate students in the Nautical Archaeology Program in the Texas A&M Department of Anthropology.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • The Conservation of the Brother Jonathan Chest (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kirsten Dollarhide.

    Two hours into the voyage from Crescent City, California to Victoria, British Columbia in July 1865, Captain Samuel DeWolf ordered SS Brother Jonathan to set a return course. Eight miles outside of Crescent City, a wave smashed the vessel into a rock, sinking it in under an hour—along with most of the cargo and passengers. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the wreckage was rediscovered; in May 2016, a shipping crate salvaged from the wreck was sent to Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research...

  • Conservation of Waterlogged Textiles from CSS Georgia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mara Deckinga.

    During recovery of material from CSS Georgia, numerous textile artifacts were recovered and transported to Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory for treatment. Unlike terrestrial locations, waterlogged sites like CSS Georgia provide a stable environment of constant temperatures, low sunlight, and minimal exposure to micro-organisms, allowing for preservation of organic material normally lost to taphonomic factors. With maritime Civil War sites like USS Monitor and H.L. Hunley...

  • Conservation Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University - An Overview (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donny Hamilton.

    The Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) was founded in1978 as part of the Nautical Archaeology Program (NAP) at Texas A&M University (TAMU) to treat the material from the archaeological sites excavated by TAMU and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Now CRL is one of six laboratories that comprise the Center of Maritime Archaeology and Conservation (CMAC) and CRL’s scope has considerably increased with an active contract conservation program treating archaeological material from both...

  • Conserving the CSS Georgia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carrigan Miller.

    Over the course of the CSS Georgia project, a wide array of artifacts have been recovered, all of which are in the process of being conserved at the Texas A&M Conservation Research Laboratory. Each artifact poses its own unique challenges and in order to effectively conserve an artifact the appropriate technique must be selected. This presentation outlines the differing techniques for de-concreting wood, iron, and cuprous materials, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls that might be...

  • Construction, Identification, and Conservation of a 19th Century Iron Cannon (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Clinton P Brooks.

    There are multiple issues that must be addressed during the archaeological conservation of iron cannon from underwater environments. Due to their size and weight they are difficult to transport and handle, and their size means that the cost of materials for conservation is high. The diversification of cannon types in the 19th century necessitates highly accurate documentation and recording to insure correct identification of type. This paper outlines the methods used for the recording,...

  • "A Formidable Looking Pile of Iron Boilers and Machinery": The Conservation and Reconstruction of USS Westfield. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Justin A Parkoff.

    During the American Civil War, USS Westfield served as the Union's flagship for operations along the Texas Gulf Coast. On January 1, 1863, Westfield was destroyed by her captain at the Battle of Galveston to avoid capture. In 2009, the disarticulated artifact debris field was recovered from the Texas City Channel in advance of a dredging project. After five years of extensive conservations efforts, these artifacts were reconstructed into a large exhibit at the Texas City Museum. This...

  • Uniform Buttons from the Site of CSS Georgia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Karen E. Martindale. Kelsey Rooney.

    The 2015 excavation of CSS Georgia yielded nearly 30 buttons spanning the time from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Uniform buttons played an important part of distinguishing between troops, duties, and rank in the military. Changes in design from year to year and manufacturer to manufacturer can inform researchers of the earliest date a button may have been used, where it was manufactured, and where the individual wearing it may have been located during his service. While sourced based...

  • You Missed a Spot: How Proper Conservation Revealed Much about an Obscure Aspect of Nineteenth Century Naval Technology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Miguel Gutierrez.

    The Texas A&M Conservation Research Laboratory is currently in charge of the conservation of artifacts from the CSS Georgia, a massive Confederate ironclad vessel purposely scuttled in 1864. Among the artifacts being treated are brass gun sights used to enhance the accuracy of naval cannon. However, literature on these specific sights is simply nonexistent. Yet, great research is not always the consultation of numerous scholarly articles or thick, heavy tomes. Sometimes, great research is just a...