The  Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory

In September 2006, the Filey Bay Initiative visited the  MAC laboratory in connection with the on going investigation into the wooden wreck in Filey Bay conjectured to the be Bonhomme Richard.  The visitors were given a full tour of the laboratory which is the foremost conservation laboratory for the conservation of underwater artefacts on the eastern seaboard of the United States of America. The Initiative is particularly interested in eighteen pound cannon as these weapons formed a major part of John Paul Jones's armament on the Bonhomme Richard and a close inspection of the example in the laboratory was permitted and advice was sought and given on conservation subjects.

The Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum was established in 1983 as a state museum of archaeology and history. The property comprising the park and museum was donated to the state of Maryland by Mary Breckenridge Patterson in memory of her late husband, Jefferson Patterson. JPPM includes more than 500 acres of farmland along both the Patuxent River and St. Leonard's Creek in Calvert County. More than 70 archaeological sites, dating from c. 6500 B.C. to the 1940s, have been located on the property. One of the missions of the museum is to locate, document, preserve, and interpret these archaeological sites.

The state-of-the-art conservation and curation facility for the state's archaeological collections, is the centrepiece of JPPM's research programs. The MAC Lab comprises more than 38,000 square feet of laboratory, collections storage, and office space, and includes a Material Sciences Lab and a Paleonenvironmental Lab. Artefacts and records from thousands of archaeological sites throughout Maryland are housed at the new lab. The MAC Lab's 4,000 volume library represents one of the most extensive holdings in history, archaeology, and anthropology in Maryland and will shortly be on-line. The MAC Lab has recently acquired the Rediscovery software package and efforts are underway to create a computerized data base of the state's archaeological collections. All of the resources of the MAC Lab are available to archaeologists, students, and educators, and accommodations for visiting researchers are extensive.

The laboratory houses up to date equipment and a large floor space to enable the conservation of large sections of timber ship's structures and as a part of its state of the art equipment, the laboratory is home to the largest freeze drier system on the East Coast and has the facilities for X Ray and forensic investigation.  Examples of timbers and metal artefacts being conserved were viewed and the principles of the use of electrolysis were explained in the practical application of the chemical stabilisation of cannons.    The pictures below represent some of the aspects and the range of work undertaken by this superb establishment of the and the Filey Bay initiative is grateful for the unrestricted access that was afforded to them by Michael Smolleck, Director of the Laboratory, Betty Sievert, past Director and senior scientist, Howard.

The  Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory Don and Howard in one of the laboratories A Freeze dryer which is the largest on the Eastern Seaboard

 The installation has been designed to accommodate very large sections of wooden vessels  for conservation

One of the tanks for submerging wet artefacts in solution for conservation A Cannon immersed in solution
and undergoing electrolytic
stabilisation
A conserved 18 pound cannon of interest to the Initiative

In addition to the facilities shown, a comprehensive X - Ray facility is in place

Howard with a bronze cannon preserved by the laboratory A Technician at work in the laboratory Don and Howard explaining the conservation work to the Initiative

The steam engine below was recovered from a wreck that had to be cleared at short notice

Don and Howard discussing another subject of conservation A conserved single cylinder steam engine recovered from a historic wreck The Steam cylinder of the engine

Excellent storage facilities are in place at the Laboratory and the Initiative were very impressed with the whole facility

Betty Sievert and Don inspecting the steam
engine
Part of the climate controlled storage facilities at the laboratory Yet another example of the range of work undertaken by the Paleoenvironmental Laboratory

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