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THE CONSERVATION OF THE BELLE. LA SALLE’S SHIP LOST IN TEXAS IN 1686. THE BELLE WAS ONE OF FOUR SHIPS UNDER THE COMMAND OF FRENCHMAN RENÉ-ROBERT CAVELIER, SIEUR (LORD) DE LA SALLE, ONE THE 17TH CENTURY’S BOLDEST EXPLORERS. LA SALLE HAD BEEN SENT BY KING LOUIS XIV OF FRANCE

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the conservation of the belle

THE CONSERVATION OF THE BELLE

LA SALLE’S SHIP

LOST IN TEXAS IN 1686

slide2

THE BELLE WAS ONE OF FOUR SHIPS UNDER THE COMMAND OF FRENCHMAN RENÉ-ROBERT CAVELIER, SIEUR (LORD) DE LA SALLE, ONE THE 17TH CENTURY’S BOLDEST EXPLORERS

LA SALLE HAD BEEN SENT BY

KING LOUIS XIV OF FRANCE

TO ESTABLISH A COLONY IN

THE NEW WORLD, AT THE

MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

slide3

UNFORTUNATELY, THE COLONY WAS NEVER FOUNDED. LA SALLE MISSED THE MISSISSIPPI BY SOME 400 MILES, LANDING ON THE GULF COAST NOT FAR FROM WHAT IS NOW CORPUS CHRISTI. THE BELLE, ANCHORED OFFSHORE WHILE THE SAILORS VENTURED INLAND, SUNK IN A VIOLENT STORM. THE CREW, TIRED, HUNGRY, AND LOST, MUTINEED AGAINST THEIR CAPTAIN, AND LA SALLE WAS KILLED.

slide4

WHILE A TRAGEDY FOR FRANCE, THE SUNKEN BELLE HAS BROUGHT MORE THAN A LITTLE SMILE TO MARINE ARCHAEOLOGISTS

IT IS ONE OF THE MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT SHIPWRECKS EVER DISCOVERED IN THE NEW WORLD

the method of the belle s excavation was as incredible as the find
THE METHOD OF THE BELLE’S EXCAVATION WAS AS INCREDIBLE AS THE FIND

A COFFERDAM WAS BUILT AROUND THE WRECK AND ALL THE WATER WAS PUMPED OUT

the quantity and variety of artifacts from the belle is astounding

THE QUANTITY AND VARIETY OF ARTIFACTS FROM THE BELLE IS ASTOUNDING

FROM WEAPONS AND RIGGING MATERIALS . . .

slide11

WITH DR. HAMILTON AT THE HELM, THE CONSERVATION TEAM AT TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY ARE RECONSTRUCTING HER WOODEN HULL PLANK BY PLANK

a state of the art wood conservation vat was specially built for the project
A STATE-OF-THE-ART WOOD CONSERVATION VAT WAS SPECIALLY BUILT FOR THE PROJECT

THE VAT IS THE LARGEST

OF ITS KIND IN THE UNITED STATES

IT I

slide16
A WEBCAM DOCUMENTS EVERY STEP OF THE PROCESS AND SHOWS IT LIVE ON THE INTERNET. HERE IS THE STATE OF REASSEMBLY ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2000
slide19

THE CONSERVATION OF ALL THE MATERIAL FOUND ON THE BELLE WILL TAKE AT LEAST FIVE YEARS. THE ASSEMBLAGE HAS PRESENTED AN OPPORTUNITY TO NOT ONLY EXPLORE NEW TREATMENTS BUT ALSO TO UPDATE TRADITIONAL METHODS OF PRESERVATION

slide20

FOR EXAMPLE, THE THIN IRON BLADES OF WEAPONS SUCH AS POLEARMS HAVE DETERIORATED ALMOST TO NOTHING. THE VOID THAT IS LEFT BY THE METAL IS FILLED WITH EPOXY TO RECREATE EACH BLADE’S ORIGINAL SHAPE

slide21

THIS CONGLOMERATE WASALSO BROKEN AND FILLED WITH EPOXY TO MAKE A CAST REPLICA OF THE ORIGINAL OBJECT

OR IN THIS CASE,

SEVERAL OBJECTS

see the difference after conservation

SEE THE DIFFERENCE AFTER CONSERVATION

ALL OF THE CASTING DETAILS ARE NOW REVEALED . . . .

slide24

SHOWN AT LEFT IS THE CREST

OF LE COMTE DE VERMANDOIS, ADMIRAL OF FRANCE, 1669-1683

SHOWN AT RIGHT IS THE CROWN OF LOUIS XIV

slide25

SHOW AT LEFT IS THE CANNON’S TOUCH HOLE (FOR THE GUNPOWDER) ENCLOSED WITHIN A ROSETTE MOTIF

SHOWN AT RIGHT IS THE WEIGHT OF THE CANNON – 746 FRENCH POUNDS – AND THE CASTING NUMBER - 84

we gave his skull a ct scan
WE GAVE HIS SKULL A CT SCAN

AND THEN CREATED

A RESIN CAST

slide28
PROF. DENIS LEE, A MEDICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ILLUSTRATOR, RECONSTRUCTED THE FACIAL FEATURES IN CLAY DIRECTLY ONTO THE CAST
slide29

ADD A LITTLE PAINT HERE . . . A LITTLE PAINT THERE . . . AND VOILA . . . THE FACE OF A 17TH-CENTURY FRENCH SAILOR IS STARING BACK AT YOU AFTER 314 YEARS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

and finally suprises are always interesting
AND FINALLY . . . SUPRISES ARE ALWAYS INTERESTING

LIKE THIS SILVER ROMAN COIN

OTHO CAESAR RULED FOR THREE MONTHS IN A.D.70. PUT ANOTHER WAY, WHEN BELLE SANK IN 1686, THIS COIN WAS 1616 YEARS OLD!!!