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VCU Archaeology

For the Birds: VCU Archaeology 3D @ Colonial Williamsburg

By Bernard K. Means, Project Director

Foreground: chicken in matrix. Background (left to right): Clinton King, Ellie Rowley-Conwy, Bernard K. Means, and Emily Williams

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, Clinton and I brought our scanner back to the conservation laboratory at Colonial Williamsburg.  Archaeological Conservator Emily Williams, as always, was very gracious and provided us with plenty of help throughout the day.  We also met Emily’s intern, Ellie Rowley-Conwy (Durham University), who was excavating an articulated chicken skeleton from its soil matrix.  The skeleton was recovered from a tavern context in a pit located in a ravine and was removed, with its surrounding soil matrix, on July 5, 2011.  We selected this as the first object we scanned.  Emily provided us with a heavy duty copy stand—her idea—to help us first scan the skeleton from the top, before we did a 360 scan around the chicken in matrix.

Left to right: Suzanne Hood, bird figurine on cart, and Emily Williams

We also discussed with Emily our interest in scanning a figurine from their collections.  She introduced us to Suzanne Hood (Associate Curator, Ceramics and Glass), who provided us with a bird figurine made in the Chelsea Porcelain factory of English soft-paste porcelain and dating to 1745.  Scanning of the object went remarkably well—especially after Emily secured the base to our scanner’s turn table using museum wax.

Lisa Fischer and Peter Inkers talk with Clinton King.

While we were in the conservation laboratory, Lisa Fischer (Director of the Digital History Center) and Peter Inkers (Digital Architectural Historian) came by to see what we were scanning.  Lisa had seen us in operation at the Society for Historical Archaeology annual meeting the week before.  Lisa and Peter gave us a tour of their Virtual Williamsburg facilities—this is an interesting project and you’ll hear more from us (and them) about this in the coming months.

Back to the laboratory, we finished scanning the porcelain figuring and also spoke with Chris Swan (Conservator, Furniture Conservation) about the possibility of scanning hand carved frames, as these are not easily duplicated.

All in all, a very productive research trip!

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