Ship Timbers

Three large wooden fragments from an unknown pre 18th-century ship are currently in treatment at the MAC Lab. Rough weather from a hurricane off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia pushed these timbers onto the beaches of Assateague (along with another VERY INTRIGUING object featured in this month’s Curator’s Choice!). To learn more about the timbers’ construction, the wood was x-rayed here at the lab and then conservators began what will be a long desalinization process. The length of time it takes for salts to be removed from a submerged object depends upon the material of the object and what its burial environment was like. These oak timbers could take as long as 10 months to finish desalinating – and that’s only the first step in their treatment!

National Park Service Ranger measuring one of the timbers.


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