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ZOOARCH  July 2009

ZOOARCH July 2009

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Subject:

Re: Fw: [ZOOARCH] Biggest degreasing

From:

Curator of Archaeology <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curator of Archaeology <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 7 Jul 2009 12:20:54 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (58 lines)

London's Natural History Museum had a large sandpit in which whales were
buried to be defleshed. I don't know if this would have degreased the bones
or whether further treatment would have been necessary. I think I was once
told that the sandpit was abandoned following a campaign by the residents of
South Kensington who objected to the smell, which must have been
considerable. 

An image can be seen at:
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://piclib.nhm.ac.uk/piclib/webima
ges/0/37000/600/37682_med.jpg&imgrefurl=http://piclib.nhm.ac.uk/piclib/www/i
mage.php%3Fimg%3D83461%26frm%3Dser%26search%3Ddead&usg=__W15_nfEhVsdu55VJWPM
RTQOYgMY=&h=229&w=300&sz=49&hl=en&start=4&sig2=tbf-2TIa6O_oY7ldgSt30A&um=1&t
bnid=dtiAgzcKJ1DnAM:&tbnh=89&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlife%2Bhrough%2Ba%2
Blens%2Bwhale%26hl%3Den%26rls%3DGGLG,GGLG:2006-40,GGLG:en%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1&
ei=wy1TSqCVKZak-AbQv53PCA.

Rob

-----Original Message-----
From: Analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Greg Campbell
Sent: 07 July 2009 12:06
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ZOOARCH] Fw: [ZOOARCH] Biggest degreasing

The Oxford Museum of Natural History also has a suspended baleen whale in
its central exhibition space, and the mammal hall at the Natural History
Museum, London has several whales hung in the air, including a blue whale
(which had to be un-suspended, dusted off and vacuumed, and re-hung about
four years ago).  The history of these is probably documented, so the
Victorian treatment for bone de-greasing may be written down somewhere.  I
would guess that de-fleshing and then de-greasing by adventitious bacteria
during either burial or exposure (rotting, in simple terms).  Their
suspended sperm whale was found in Thurso, Scotland in 1863, and donated in
1865, giving two years to rot down to bone.  Perhaps the de-fleshed bones
got a regular scrubbing with some fierce and simple chemical solution (lye,
or caustic soda) and rinsing with lots of water.

Any other musuems with suspended whales?

Greg Campbell

----- Original Message -----
From: <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Greg Campbell" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 07, 2009 11:14 AM
Subject: Re: [ZOOARCH] Biggest degreasing


> Interesting. The Zoology Museum in Cambridge has a blue whale skeleton, 
> nicely degreased. When I was a child, the skeleton was suspended 
> dramatically overhead inside the museum. With the rebuilding of the museum

> and some decades on, it is in the open air, but under cover. How did the 
> Victorians degrease this without enzymes, I wonder?
>
> Tony Legge
> 

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