A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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Airscribing the Tea Kettle and Cauldron Continues

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LAMP archaeologist Brian McNamara is carefully cleaning this cast-iron tea kettle of concretion using a delicate pneumatic tool. The kettle was recovered from the Storm Wreck, lost in the late 1700s offshore St. Augustine.

For the past week we've been making a big push to get more artifacts cleaned. Right now we have a good number of interns from universities across the country and as far away as Germany and Australia, and we have been seeking to maximize on their labor before most return to school in August and September. So we have been cleaning artifacts in shifts each day outside LAMP headquarters, which has the added benefit of providing a unique show for our visitors.

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We started cleaning the cast iron tea kettle a few days back, and then kept it in wet storage for a while so we could concentrate on the two cauldrons. One thing that alarmed us was a noticeable crack on the body of the kettle, and a small area on the rim that has broken off sometime in antiquity. Brian is proceeding very carefully with this object, as we hope to be able to free encrustation without making the break or crack any worse.

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Inside the kettle is a mass of concretion that Brian is slowly chipping away. A similar mass of stuff was inside the baby cauldron, which is now completely clean. Embedded within this concreted material is a brick fragment and what looks like a piece of historic glass, along with lots of shells. Brian will proceed with care.

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I thought I'd also include a few pictures from Friday. Here is Florian Funk, a student intern from Germany, airscribing the largest cauldron.

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Florian was a high school exchange student at Pedro Menendez High back in 2009, when he participated in the MARC Program at LAMP. This exciting program gets high school students certified as divers by LAMP scuba instructors, and lets them dive side by side with underwater archaeologists working on historic shipwreck sites. Florian was one of our most promising students, and he came back to dive with us in 2010, when he helped recover this cauldron. He's come back again, to intern with us, this year, and its been great having him back. We got the Funk!

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The airscribes are powered by a gasoline-driven air compressor. Here New College intern Annie Carter re-fuels the compressor.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates on our progress with the artifacts. To learn more about the shipwreck, visit LAMP's Storm Wreck webpage.

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