Behind the Scenes: Warren Lasch Conservation Center on Excavating Block Lifts

Content courtesy of Warren Lasch Conservation Center. Visit their Facebook page and website for more info!

In recent months, the conservation and archaeological teams from the Warren Lasch Conservation Center (WLCC) have been excavating block lifts removed from H.L. Hunley. The block-lifting technique consisted of probing the sediment and dividing the areas along major bone groups and sensitive artifacts. Steel plates were then slid under each block to separate the section from the rest of the sediment. The purpose of using block lifts was to safely retrieve the extremely fragile textiles that archaeologists were unable to excavate using traditional archaeological methods. The block lift would be removed intact and later x-rayed, documented, and excavated for small or fragile artifacts. In total, 48 block lifts were taken from the interior of Hunley and placed within the labs cooler for future excavation and documentation. While the vast majority of block lifts have been examined, a few still need to be worked on in order to finish the excavation and ensure that no artifact is left undocumented. Over the last couple of months, WLCC scientists have been able to recover two buttons, a pack of matches, and a section of a twill vest worn by one of the crewmembers. The WLCC team plans to continue their efforts in hopes of uncovering more artifacts that will help them better understand the Hunley crew and what happened on the night the historic submarine was lost. 

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