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2005 From the Dig
Archaeology Report

Conservation Report

Data Collection and Storage

Archaeological Conservation 2005

This season was another success in terms of both the archaeology and the conservation of materials. This year marked a beginning towards the Colony of Avalon being an independent research center. Memorial will continue to research, conserve and publish on the bulk materials excavated from the Ferryland site, however, less time will be spent on-site by Memorial's archaeological conservator. The laboratory staff can now carry out the on-site processing of materials and initial conservation. The laboratory staff have had extensive out-reach training through Memorial over the past 14 years. Iron and wood objects will be transported to the university for treatment only and returned to the site once stable.

The bulk of the Ferryland collection has now been moved from collections storage at Memorial to the Colony of Avalon Building. This too is a move toward the Colony of Avalon being an independent research center. With improved storage and a concentrated effort to sort and organize the collections, the Ferryland collection would represent one of the world's most concentrated collections of material culture from the Early Modern Period of English colonial expansion. To this end, the Colony of Avalon would benefit from the services of a collections manager and is encouraged to find funding to support a collections manager.

The conservation and laboratory unit, at the Colony of Avalon, is building a strong group of volunteers. Both Charlotte Newton and Ellen Foulkes continue to be significant contributors to the conservation and processing of material.

With respect to artifactual remains excavated this year, the most significant find has been the large quantities of tin glazed earthenware. Representing the high end of ceramics at this period, this collection is probably equal to some of the Ceramic Rooms at the Rikjsmuseum, Amsterdam. It would be beneficial to this collection, and the interpretation of the materials associated with the site, to obtain the services of a ceramic restorer to sort and assemble these fragments. What this means in terms of future exhibits is significant. The collection, once restored, could represent the Colony's first traveling exhibit.

All in all it was another great season. I look forward to what will follow in 2006.

Cathy Mathias
Archaeological Conservator

On site conservation at Ferryland - 2005

Charlotte Newton, Senior Conservator (Archaeology) at the Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, worked at the Colony of Avalon archaeological site as a representative of Canadian Conservation Institute for three days and as a volunteer for four and one half weeks.

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During my five weeks on site I treated, or began treatment on, about 120 small finds, primarily metal objects (copper alloy, lead and silver coins; copper alloy/tin plated pins; copper alloy decorative elements such as garter points or aiglets, buttons, hooks, and tacks); several unusual bone objects of unknown use; several nearly complete ceramic objects, including a small sgrafitto plate and other miscellaneous beads, leather and textile fragments, and iron. Treatment of some of these objects could be completed on site, while others (such as textile, leather, iron) will need longer term treatments or specialized equipment not available on site. Particularly interesting objects included a small decorated copper alloy box lid, very similar to others found on the wreck of the Batavia (1629) and at Martinís Hundred (about 1618-1622), a complete copper alloy spigot and a complete cloak hook made of rolled copper alloy wire. All were in good condition and could be treated in the on site lab.

While I was on site, I was able to monitor the condition of the Ferryland cross, which had recently been returned to the site after 3D laser scanning, replication, and construction of an anoxic display and storage case, done at or coordinated by CCI. Future monitoring of the cross in its new case will be vitally important to its survival. The lab staff who deal with artifact processing, cataloguing, data entry, interacting with the public and other lab duties, should all be congratulated for their efficient and unflappable handling of the over 50,000 artifacts from this season. Their experience and knowledge were evident in the way the artifacts were cared for and processed, and they made the conservatorís job much easier.

The 2005 season, like previous seasons, produced a wealth of artifact material, in terms of variety, quality and quantity. For an archaeological conservator, there can be few fieldwork experiences that could match this one, not only for the opportunity to work on such a variety of material, but also for the chance to work on a site where active excavation, artifact processing, storage, display and public involvement are so well integrated. From my experience, there are few sites in Canada where this is done, let alone done so well. The MUN Archaeology Unit, the Colony of Avalon Foundation and the staff in Ferryland should all be commended for what has been accomplished. It is a pleasure to have been a part of the team for the last several years and I hope to be able to be of help to the Colony in the future.

Remarks by Charlotte Newton
Senior Conservator Ė Canadian Conservation Institute - Ottawa

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