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VCU Archaeology

Archaeological Conservation and the Virtual Curation Laboratory

by Bernard K. Means, Director

Last week, the Virtual Curation Laboratory (VCL) hosted Katherine Ridgway and two of her interns.  Katherine is the archaeological conservator at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR).  Her goal is to preserve and protect archaeological resources held in trust by the state of Virginia, while also still making them available for researchers.

Lauren Volkers demonstrates the NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner to our VDHR visitors.

Lauren Volkers demonstrates the NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner to our VDHR visitors.

One of our major goals in the VCL is to help preserve and protect objects from the past.  Our NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner offers a non-contact method of recording major features of an object and creating a digital model that can be readily shared with researchers, near and far.  This can minimize the need of staff at collections repositories from entering their collections to make available artifacts that are frequently requested by scholars. Virtual curation is particularly important in cases where funding is not currently available for conservation.

Bone awl from the Lauderdale site (44Bo4)

Bone awl from the Lauderdale site (44Bo4).

We can also, of course, make printed plastic replicas of digital objects that can be used for outreach, education, and even museum displays.  Minimizing handling of an actual object will increase an artifact’s longevity.

Ashley McCuistion discusses our printed plastic replicas with Katherine Ridgway.

Ashley McCuistion discusses our printed plastic replicas with Katherine Ridgway.

Over the coming months, we will plan to develop a closer working relationship with VDHR conservator Katherine Ridgway, so we can together protect and preserve the past for the future.

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