My Story

My Story: Learning New Skills at QAR

Meagan shares what she learned during a 5-week internship in summer 2023

Author: Meagan Clyburn, Intern

Hello! My name is Meagan Clyburn, and I am a graduate student at Texas A&M University, pursuing a master’s degree in Maritime Archaeology and Conservation. Growing up in Missouri I did not spend much time on or near the water, but I have always been fascinated by pirates, shipwrecks, and seafaring history. I actually spent most of my high school and undergraduate career focused on a pre-medical track, but deep down I always knew that my true passion was history and the preservation of both physical objects and cultural heritage. In the end I graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in Anthropology and a focus on historical archaeology, and since then I have been happily studying shipwreck archaeology at TAMU.

My main interest in the subject lies in ship construction, specifically at the stern and with ship steering technologies. My research traces the development of the ship’s steering wheel during the two centuries of transition from the Age of Sail to the Age of Steam. In the summer of 2022, I was part of the Gaspé Maritime Archaeology Project team in Québec, where I first learned how to record ship timbers and how to operate in an underwater archaeological environment. In 2023, I participated in the inaugural year of the Lady Washington SAIL (Sail and Archaeological Integrated Learning) Program. I spent two weeks aboard the brig Lady Washington and was trained in tall ship maneuvering and sail handling techniques, as well as hull and rig maintenance.

I have always considered conservation and preservation one of the most important aspects of archaeology though, so when I was offered the opportunity to intern at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Laboratory this past summer, I was thrilled! The staff at the lab was kind enough to host me for five weeks, and I learned so much about not only the conservation of waterlogged artifacts, but also the continued preservation of objects in both a museum and storage setting.

I got to assist with tasks including solution testing, chelation, electrolytic reduction (ER), polyethylene glycol (PEG) treatment, artifact photography and air scribing, but perhaps one of my favorite things I did was illustrate an iron artifact. I have always enjoyed drawing, but learning how to do technical illustrations and the different methods for showing specific details was really interesting. I also enjoyed helping with reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) on the hull planking from QAR, and the concepts I learned through that I have been able to apply to my own research.

Interning at the QAR Lab was a wonderful experience, and I am excited to see how the skills and knowledge I obtained will benefit me in the future as I progress in my career. I am incredibly grateful to the QAR team for welcoming me and teaching me so much, and I look forward to keeping in touch and hearing about the exciting things they are doing out at the lab!

Meagan and Lady Washington. Image courtesy of Meagan Clyburn, used with permission.
Meagan at the helm. Image courtesy of Meagan Clyburn, used with permission.

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