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In March of this year, NCPTT announced its 2010 grant awards to universities, non-profit organizations, federal departments, and state agencies to apply new and emerging technologies to past cultural treasures.

Researchers at the University of Mississippi, for example, will receive $25,000 to digitally recover water-damaged manuscripts with a portable multispectral imaging lab. The same amount of money will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, where scholars will employ portable Raman spectroscopy to study plastic windows and headgear in historic aircraft.

In all, $320,000 of federal grants recently gave historic preservation efforts a boost for technology and training. The fourteen grants were chosen from 41 complete applications submitted. The grantees will develop and use technology, methods, and training materials for preservation professionals.

Awards went to:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park to test and augment new cultural resource spatial data standards to make the technology of Geographic Information Systems more useful for cultural resource managers ($25,000).

Bandelier National Park to develop an improved method for repairing wooden structural beams within the park’s Civilian Conservation Corps National Historic District ($6,000).

University of Massachusetts to protect Gullah land and community through the development of a locative media website for tourism, community planning, and education ($24,000).

Clemson University for structural health monitoring of America’s cultural heritage ($25,000).

Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Natural History to create a website and online community forum for Osteoware software ($20,000).

Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum for molecular characterization and technical study of historic aircraft windows and headgear using portable Raman spectroscopy ($25,000).

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to evaluate nanoparticles (quantum dots) in order to tag and determine penetration depths of consolidant treatments ($25,000).

University of Mississippi for digital recovery of water-damaged manuscripts using a portable multispectral imaging lab ($25,000).

Carnegie Mellon University to develop a micro-fading tester with near UV capability ($25,000).

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to create a Massachusetts heritage landscape atlas ($25,000).

Pennsylvania State University to develop assessment techniques for historic concrete and masonry using air-coupled impact echo-methods ($25,000).

Louisiana Landmarks Society for the development of the workshop “Preservation Reengineering: Finding Green Environmental Management in Vernacular Historic Buildings” ($25,000).

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service to develop a “Preservation Protection of Historic Wooden Structures” user guide and online tool ($25,000).

Library of Congress to further materials characterization techniques utilizing advanced spectral imaging methods ($20,000).



A Comprehensive Training Program for 3D Digital Rock Art Documentation and Preservation (2009)

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is the most significant imaging breakthrough for archaeological and heritage documentation and preservation since stereo photogrammetry. Based on internationally developed, state-of-the-art, open source and freely available software, RTI provides flexible, very cost effective tools and methods for the on-site, three-dimensional (3D), full-color digital capture of rock art, petroglyphs and artifacts, with accuracy measured in the microns. PTT Grant awardee Cultural Heritage Imaging held a workshop on this technology July 23-24 at the BLM National Operations Center in Denver. A final report is due.

A Polymeric Treatment for Controlling Salt Damage to Stone and Brick (2009)

Dr. George Scherer of Princeton University has submitted an interim report for the development of a novel polymeric treatment for controlling salt damage on limestone. To date, he has determined the amount of polymer applied to the stone, and the amount that is retained after exposure to water and salt solutions. He has prepared a series of samples for warping tests by impregnating them with sodium sulfate. A paper on the warping method for measuring crystallization stress has been submitted to J. Geological Research. Autopsies on the stones from the capillary rise experiment are currently being performed. The results of these experiments and the warping tests will be written up for publication by the end of this year. The project is expected to be completed by June 2010.

Nautical Archeologist from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum prepares to dive on a shipwreck to evaluate a handheld imaging sonar.

Assessment of Handheld Multibeam Sonar Imagery for the Study of Submerged Cultural Resources (2009)

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum received a 2009 grant to evaluate the use of handheld multibeam sonar for the non-invasive documentation of submerged cultural resources. In October 2009, LCMM executed the underwater fieldwork related to this grant. A handheld sonar (Blueview 990/2200 dual frequency sonar) was evaluated on two Lake Champlain shipwrecks: the steamboat Champlain and a wooden barge. The results suggested that the sonar was highly efficient at guiding a diver in low visibility conditions to the shipwreck site. However, the imagery collected, although much more detailed than typical side scan sonar, lacked sufficient resolution to be used as a substitute for diver documentation of a site. These results were presented by Adam Kane, LCMM Nautical Archaeologist, at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Jacksonville, Florida in January 2010.

Preservation of Human Dental Surface Micro-Topography with Three-Dimensional Non-Destructive Digital Imaging (2009)

Dr. Shannon Hodge of Middle Tennessee State University is testing the applicability of existing three-dimensional digital dental imaging technology for creating research-quality digital models of human dental surface micro-topography. She is using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing technology to digitize human teeth from archeological contexts and produce microscopically-accurate porcelain replicas. The project is on task and scheduled for completion in 2010.

Creation of a Web-accessible Database of the Comparative Plant Fiber Collection (2009)

Dr. Kathryn Jakes of Ohio State University has submitted an interim report on the 2009 PTT Grant funded project. The Fiber Reference Image Library (FRIL), a web-accessible database of digital images, explanatory text, and terminology documents has been initiated. When the FRIL database is completed, ethnobotanists, archaeologists and analysts of material culture will be able to glean critical information from artifacts under their study through comparison to fiber morphological characteristics. Additionally, the database that is being created will serve as an exemplar for additional contributions and expansions to broaden its scope and applications. A website was created for the Fiber Reference Image Library at fril.osu.edu.

Development of Ceramic Reference Materials for Calibration and Quantification of Portable XRF Data (2009)

Dr. Caitlin O’Grady reports that progress has been made in determining the physical and chemical parameters needed to produce the main grant product: the ceramic reference materials. Also, research has focused on identifying low-fired ceramics wares of interest, as well as the sites that produced them in the prehistoric Mid-Atlantic region – in particular differentiating between low-fired ceramics produced in the James River drainage and the Potomac River drainage.

Evaluation of Ca(OH)2 Nano-Particle Treatment of Cordage/Basketry (2009)

This project evaluates the impact and effectiveness of calcium hydroxide nanoparticles on archeological cordage. Thus far the laboratory has been equipped with the materials needed to synthesize and isolate the calcium hydroxide nanoparticles. The synthesis of the nanoparticles has been done, and characterization studies are now in progress. The investigation of the effect of nanoparticles on high-lignin content material has begun. Cordage samples have been made from collected native materials, yucca elata, and processed by retting and twisting. Samples of archeological cordage have been scanned, and the information regarding them placed into a database. The project is on schedule.

Fire Safety for Historic Buildings – Teaching Modules (2009)

This grant project develops teaching modules for delivery or distribution to preservation conferences and academic institutions covering fire safety topic areas of fire prevention; code requirements; fire safe construction; fire detection and suppression; and fire-safe renovation. Each module is being compiled electronically for optimum dissemination and presentation technology. Outlines for all five of the proposed modules have been developed. Draft presentation formats for two of the modules were used for a workshop delivered to the Colorado Preservation Institute conference “Saving Places” on Feb. 3, 2010. Work continues on refining these modules and formatting the remaining three modules.

LCC Bridge Workshop participant Jason Church learns how to drive rivets with the help on instructors Adam Mena and Roger Morrison.

Preservation of Historic Iron and Steel in Bridges (2009)

NCPTT’s Jason Church attended the “Preservation of Historic Iron and Steel in Bridges and Other Metal Structures Workshop,” which was funded with a 2009 PTT Grant. This workshop was held on March 8-10, 2010, at the Lansing Community College in Lansing, Mich. The first day featured eight lectures on different aspects of historic metal bridge construction and preservation. The final two days of the workshop were filled with hands-on demonstrations where the participants learned a variety of techniques from riveting to the welding of cast iron.

The Tutuila Basalt Export Industry: Leveraging Resources to Train Native American Samoans in Preservation Technology (2009)

While work on the project has begun, it has been hindered by the devastating tsunami that struck the American Samoan Islands in September 2009. David Addison has requested a one-year no-cost extension for the project.

Web-Accessible Training in Thin-Section Petrography of Cultural Materials (2009)

NCPTT has received the interim report for a series of learning modules under development with a 2009 PTT Grant. Dr. Chandra Reedy at the University of Delaware is developing the online training geared to conservators and conservation scientists interested in learning how to interpret thin sections of cultural materials. The project is expected to be completed by June 2010.

What’s Out There – An Interactive Catalog of Designed American Cultural Landscapes (2009)

The searchable website has been created and is in beta testing stages with database population underway. The website is searchable by landscape type, style, site name, designer name, design firm, geographic region, and assoicated historic persons. A substantial working database will be live and available for free public used on the TCLF website (www.tclf.org) by June 30, 2010.

FAIC Conservation Catalog Wiki (2008)

On October 1, 2009, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) launched a new wiki website based on a digital version of the conservation catalog literature. The site, www.conservation-wiki.com, provides much broader access to conservation catalog resources, ensuring that innovative methods and materials are documented and widely disseminated to practicing conservators and conservation scientists.

Historic Windows Assessment Project (2008)

This study evaluates historic windows with a variety of upgrades, such as weather-stripping and storm windows, and compares the performance of these units to Energy Star rated windows. The study also evaluates the performance of new and old windows within the context of a life cycle analysis. The schedule for this project has been delayed due to the extended construction schedule of one of the projects (Villa Finale in San Antonio, Texas). The project estimates came in $500,000 more than expected and it took about six months to secure the extra funding. The construction began Feb. 1, 2010, instead of November 2009 as was anticipated. Window restoration is scheduled to be implemented in June and July. A two-day site visit of Lawrence Berkley scientists and the National Trust Principal Investigator is scheduled for the week of May 3, 2010, for Villa Finale and the following week of May 10, for Lyndhurst.

New Technology, New Opportunities: Development of a National Chert Characterization Database (2008)

A development using x-ray fluorescence has made possible the creation of a database of “fingerprints” using inexpensive analysis of large quantities of chert. This new technology, a collection of materials from the source, the analysis of these source materials and artifacts from a three-state area will provide the beginnings of a national database for chert elemental analysis. Dr. James McCrorey Lawton Jr, at the Center for Archaeology, Tulane University, reports that there have been delays within the project, as the XRF instrument under lease from Bruker was shipped back to the manufacturer for repairs. Upon the completion of the recalibration of the instrument, Bruker extended the lease to cover the lost time as a no-cost modification to the contract. The elemental characterization of the source materials continued, as materials donated from other collectors (complete with coordinates where collected) from other chert-bearing locales were characterized and put into comparative collections. Lawton requested a one-year no-cost extension.

Rapid Quantification of Ceramic Paste Recipes Using Digital Camera Capture and Image Analysis (2008)

This project will develop and test a technique to measure the abundance and size of ceramic temper that is orders of magnitude faster and less expensive than previous techniques. Using digital cameras and multiple lights to capture images of exposed sherd edges and image analysis software to process the images, this technique collects a set of detailed quantitative measurements. Dr. Patrick Livingood reports that the primary data-gathering apparatus was assembled by January 2009 and the Moon Site ceramics were moved to the Southeastern Archaeological Laboratory in October of 2009. With the help of five work study students he has been gathering images of the sherd edges since January. The team originally estimated 25,000 sherds were to be photographed, but now estimate the count will be closer to 20,000. Dr. Livingood has requested a budget change to hire a part-time student for the project and has requested a no-cost extension.

Sustainable Fiber Reinforced Mortar (FRM) Mixtures for the Preservation of Unreinforced Masonry Architectural Heritage (2008)

Dr. Ece Erdogmus, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, investigated and compared sustainable and organic fiber options to more commonly used, synthetic options to encourage sustainability in rehabilitation projects. This project proved that the inclusion of fibers in mortars can effectively increase the strength and ductility of both Portland-cement lime and hydraulic lime mortars, however, in varying levels and not always consistently. Treated cornsilk fibers proved to be a promising sustainable fiber option as the levels of strength increase and ductility were comparable to those of synthetic fibers. Data collected from is available on a free internet website provided at www.unl.edu/ae_frm

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119