Indiana University Bloomington has received two artifact conservation contracts worth $68,700 over the next three years. The contracts, awarded by the state of California, will enable IU to train students in the latest conservation theory and techniques, as applied to 19th century artifacts recovered from shipwrecks in California state waters.
Charles Beeker, director of the Office of Underwater Science in the Department of Recreation and Park Administration, which is part of IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, previously conducted field research on the S.S. Pomona, a 19th-century triple-expansion steam engine, passenger ferry that wrecked off Fort Ross, Calif., in 1908. Last summer Beeker additionally directed an underwater survey of the sailing clipper Frolic, which wrecked offshore of Mendocino, Calif., in 1850. That work was featured on television's History Channel.
Artifacts -- including the Frolic's cannon -- recovered from the shipwrecks will be shipped to IU, where they will be conserved in a collaborative project between the Office of Underwater Science and IU's Mathers Museum of World Cultures. IU will establish a Web-accessed camera and chemical monitoring system so that information on treatment of the artifacts can be accessed through the Internet.
For nearly 20 years, IU's Office of Underwater Science -- ironically landlocked in the Midwest -- has been involved in underwater archaeology, water quality analysis and the establishment of underwater parks in localities such as the Dominican Republic, the Cayman Islands, California and the Florida Keys. IU offers a certificate in underwater resources management through its outdoor recreation program and underwater archaeology degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences' individualized majors program.