Conservation is a scientifically designed strategy to preserve waterlogged artifacts from loss, injury, decay, or waste. Using established procedures, an artifact is initially preserved by controlling the surrounding environment to minimize decay. While in the field, this means keeping the artifact wet. Back at the lab, conservation procedures additionally restore and dehydrate water-soaked artifacts in a controlled environment, stabilizing them against further deterioration.
This is one of two dugout canoes conserved
by the Society. The canoe above is about
150 years old- the other was 1,800 years old!
Artifacts found on a shipwreck site can be made from a wide range of materials. Wood and iron are common, though pottery, glass, textiles, leather, bone, copper, and brass artifacts may be found as well. Each of these materials requires special consideration and different conservation techniques.
Conservation is an expensive, time consuming process. Moreover, conserved artifacts must be stored or displayed in a controlled environment that will ensure their long-term preservation, thus guaranteeing that they will be available for public viewing and further research.