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VCU Archaeology

Moche Madness, A Mummified Mammal, and a Young Explorer

by Bernard K. Means, Director

Friday was quite a busy day in the Virtual Curation Laboratory, so, in that sense, just a typical week day. I arrived to the laboratory early in the morning to find a half-scale Moche vessel sitting in our MakerBot Replicator.  Three previous attempts to print this were unsuccessful, but Digital Curation Specialist Lauren Volkers managed to create a digital model that could be printed.

The Moche vessel is from the collections of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, as are two Moche figurines that we printed the day before.  The latter were painted on Friday by Intern Vivian Hite to provide them with an appearance approximating the actual object.

Vivian Hite paints a Moche figurine.

Vivian Hite paints a Moche figurine.

Of course, we multi-tasked in the Virtual Curation Laboratory. Intern Carson Collier scanned some Monongahela artifacts while she edited some already scanned digital models.

Carson Collier scans an antler tine.

Carson Collier scans an antler tine.

Taking a break from painting replica artifacts, intern Vivian Hite also scanned some chipped stone tools on loan from the Fort Lee Regional Archaeological Curation Facility, our partner on our current Department of Defense Legacy Program funded project.

Vivian placing a broadspear in position for scanning.

Vivian placing a broadspear in position for scanning.

We closed out our day with a visit from young Lowell Nugent and his mother Wendy. Lowell had with him a dessicated animal sent to him from his grandfather in North Carolina.

Lowell Nugent and his mummy.

Lowell Nugent and his mummy.

At first glance, this mummified mammal resembled a rat, but Digital Zooarchaeologist Mariana Zechini and Digital Curation Supervisor Ashley McCuistion quickly noticed that the teeth were wrong for this type of animal.  A preliminary assessment suggests that this is likely a young opossum, but we will scan the mummy and make a more detailed assessment in the coming week.

We also gave Lowell and his mother Wendy a tour of the Virtual Curation Laboratory and discussed some of our various research project and collections that we are currently scanning.

Update: for more on Lowell Nugent and his experience, see this blog: http://www.jeffnugent.net/blog/?p=260

I’d like to thank Wendy Nugent for the photographs that appear below:

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