an intact wooden chest from the 1686 wreck of la belle n.
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An Intact Wooden Chest from the 1686 Wreck of La Belle

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An Intact Wooden Chest from the 1686 Wreck of La Belle

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  1. An Intact Wooden Chest from the 1686 Wreck of La Belle Michael C. West, M.A., Research Associate, Conservation Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

  2. Background Other Finds: Trade Items (knives, glass beads, hawk’s bells, brass Jesuit rings) Weaponry (polearms, muskets, swords) Navigational Tools (nocturnal, dividers, sounding leads)

  3. Conservation Research Laboratory

  4. Dimensions: 25.5 inches long 13 inches wide 13.5 inches tall Weight: 300+ pounds The Chest

  5. Thesis Research Questions • Who did the chest belong to? • Was the chest locked? Private or public? • Why is there such an eclectic group of items? • Why was this chest on the ship when it sank?

  6. The Chest

  7. LeftEnd BoardsRight

  8. Preliminary Work • Cleaning • Orientation • Hardware • Sideboards

  9. Chest Discoveries • X-rays • Fasteners • Hinges • Lock • Orientation

  10. The Internal Matrix – like hardened cement!!

  11. Artifact Material

  12. Wood h

  13. Lead • Sounding Weight • Counterweight? • Line Weight • Musket Ball • Hand Pump Valve Piece? Sieve?

  14. The Beauty of the Brass Thimble Fragment Dividers • Scabbard Chape • Sword Hilt Guard • Diamond-shaped Washer on Brewer’s Gimlet Sword Hilt Knuckle Bow

  15. Iron Preservation I

  16. Iron Preservation II Think of getting a cast on a broken bone!

  17. After the Chest is Apart…

  18. Inside the Chest

  19. Cooper’s Heading Saw

  20. Cooper’s Axe

  21. Brewer’s Gimlet

  22. Cooper’s Draw Knives

  23. Carpenter’s Draw Knife

  24. Draw Knife Handles

  25. Cooper’s Adze

  26. Two Adzes

  27. Chisels/Gouges

  28. Augers One complete auger with wooden handle, + five additional iron bits wrapped together with twine

  29. Small Gimlet – with “WF” Initials! Gimlet

  30. Hewing Hatchet

  31. Other Objects

  32. Tinderbox • Very poor condition • Made of tin • Circular, about 12 cm (5 inches) across and 4.5 cm (1 ¾ inches) high • Five compartments inside • One small circular compartment in center, about 2 cm across • Four other chambers created by tin walls radiating away from this center compartment at ninety degree angles • Lead-based solder for securing compartment walls to rest of box

  33. Reaping Hook (Times Two)

  34. Small Padlock

  35. Drumsticks

  36. Shackle Bolt LockA quick-fix for holding prisoners?

  37. Gaff…or Cattle Hook?

  38. Sounding Lead (Shallow Water)Weight: 3.38 kg (7.45 lb)

  39. Navigational Dividers

  40. Fishing Net Weight

  41. 7-Tine Fishing Spear

  42. Sword HiltGripKnuckle BowGuardWhere is the missing piece, the pommel?

  43. The Missing Pommel?

  44. Sword Hilt Grip

  45. Pewter Fork - “M CARDIN” & “FIN” 1691: Michel Cardin becomes one of three pewter tax officials in La Rochelle 1707: Cardin dies and his wife Elizabeth takes over his authority as tax official

  46. *Mystery* Artifacts

  47. Ownership • Cooper – cooper’s axe, cooper’s adze, 2 cooper’s draw knives, brewer’s gimlet, cold chisel, cooper’s heading saw • Carpenter – square, mortising chisel, 2 adzes, hatchet, 2 gouges, gimlet, draw knife, augers • Ship’s Pilot – sounding lead, fishing spear, net weight, dividers, possible gaff

  48. Ownership • Livestock Tender? Soldier? Farmer? One of the elite? (Sword, 3 padlocks, possible gate pull, thimble, lead shot, 4 drumsticks, fork…) • Maybe a kleptomaniac! • Initials: “WF” from gimlet & “IO”? “JO”? “OI”? “OJ”? (etc) from fork = Differing origins!

  49. A Possible History • La Rochelle  l’Aimable • L’Aimable  Camp constructed of l’Aimable wood • Camp  La Belle • La Belle  Staging Area • Staging Area  Permanent Settlement -- La Salle reverses orders! Permanent Settlement  Back to Belle, one last time…

  50. End