Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Robert Blanchette on "Tombs, sunken ships and historic huts: studying ancient wood reveals secrets from the past"

Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 at 6pm in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center at Macalester College

Wood from archaeological and historic sites holds great potential for providing information from the past. It is important for precise dating of sites, determining the origin of objects and learning more about how cultural materials were utilized in the past. Archaeological wood, however, is rarely found free of deterioration and of great concern is the preservation of these historically significant wooden objects and structures.  This presentation will discuss investigations at some of the world’s most important heritage sites to better understand the wooden cultural resources found, elucidate the current condition of the wood and identify degradation processes that have taken place so that appropriate methods of preservation can be developed. Examples will include information on the wooden structures and ancient furniture from the ‘King Midas’ tomb in Turkey, ancient Egyptian wood, the expedition huts built by early explorers of Antarctica Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott, and sunken ships including the ‘Manhattan ship’ found during excavations at ground zero in New York City.

Location and parking information can be found here (#29 on the map)

furniture from the "Midas Tomb" at Gordion, Turkey

About the Speaker: Robert A. Blanchette is a Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. His major interests are in the area of forest pathology and wood microbiology with research in tree defense mechanisms, deterioration processes of wood, biotechnological uses of forest fungi, biological control of forest pathogens, and the conservation of archaeological wood and wood of historic value. Projects involve novel, interdisciplinary approaches to solving tree disease problems and understanding the biology and ecology of forest microbes. 

Professor Blanchette has received numerous honors and published on a wide range of topics. More about his work is here.

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