Waterlogged Archaeological Corks Drying

Waterlogged Bungs from the San Juan 

Waterlogged corks from the San Juan, a Spanish Basque Whaler that sank in the fall of 1565 in Red Bay, Labrador, Canada were excavated by Parks Canada between 1979 and 1985. The corks were conserved using supercritical CO2 Drying process at the WLCC. Their dimensional changes during treatment were monitored using Structured-Light 3D scanning. The WLCC is the only laboratory in the United States using this innovative conservation process and structured light scanning to document the treated artifacts.

  • All the cork diagnostic features were well preserved and enhanced by the SC-CO2 treatment

  • All dried specimens are structurally sound with a stable post-treatment weight

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Parks Canada Cork 3D Comparison pre and post conservation
Parks Canada Cork 3D Comparison pre and post conservation

Parks Canada bungs before after Supercritical TreatmentParks Canada Corks after Supercritical CO2 drying 
 
Parks Canada Corks before and after Supercritical CO2 drying
 

Waterlogged composite cork from the Queen Anne’s Revenge 

The WLCC received from the Queen Anne’s Revenge (1718) a green glass bottleneck shard of an early 18th century case flacon bottle still containing the cork. The bottleneck shard was removed from a large concretion that was attached to the side of a cannon recovered from the mid-ship area of the site, during an October 1998 excavation by the Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project, Underwater Archaeology Branch.  The cork represents the first successful conservation of such a composite artifact ever reported with no visible shrinkage.

Waterlogged composite cork from the Queen Anne’s Revenge Waterlogged composite cork from the Queen Anne’s Revenge 
Waterlogged composite cork from the Queen Anne’s Revenge