ESCAL/RP Systems For Ferrous Metals: Making Material Culture Accessible
Since 1987, the conservation of archaeological ferrous (iron) metals at Memorial University (MUN) has followed the methodology for bulk treatments as set out by a research team from the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI): Charles Costain, Cliff McCawley, Judy Logan, Charles Hett and assisted by Mathias (conservation intern at CCI). One example of an archaeological site that this treatment has been applied to is iron metal excavated from a 17th century English Plantation site at Ferryland, Newfoundland. Note that ferrous metals excavated from other sites including; a 16th century Basque Whaling site, Red Bay, Labrador, a Beothuk site, Boyd’s Cove, Newfoundland, St. John’s Waterfront site, Newfoundland, French Shore fishing sites, Newfoundland, Thule sites in Northern Labrador and Aboriginal contact sites in central Labrador were included in this type of bulk treatment. Iron metal is susceptible to rapid corrosion in a wet terrestrial or underwater burial environment. Therefore conservators working with iron objects must arrest or reduce this corrosion rate and keep this type of object in an environment free of the parameters which promote corrosion such as oxygen, free ions and water. Treatments to remove these parameters require creative thinking and informed personnel from the excavators to conservators to collections managers. Treatment in an aqueous 0.5% solution of sodium hydroxide has proven to be the most successful (Mathias et al, 2004). Clear plastic packages containing oxygen scavengers (ESCAL/RP) allow researchers to access objects while they remain in their stable environment after treatment. Currently at the conservation lab here at MUN a simple storage monitoring device is being developed using iron coupons impregnated into epoxy plugs. The cross-section of the iron coupon is exposed to the storage environment. Changes to the iron plug are identified by staff which alerts the conservator to examine objects in storage cabinets which otherwise go undetected if not being researched.
01 Jan 1987
31 Dec 2016
ISER And The Smallwood Foundation
Strategic Research Theme
Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage