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Wear Patterns

Posted by Conservators on Jul 22, 2012 11:52:21 PM

Author: Susanne Grieve

Date: July 18, 2012

Temperature: -39°C

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Temp with wind chill: -85°C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset N/A


An important part of the conservation of the material culture from the historic huts is maintaining evidence of use. A lot of times, conservators use their own experience to determine how an object was used and identify wear patterns. In many ways this is similar to experimental archaeology where sites or techniques are recreated using techniques that are similar to the methods that people used in the past. A common example of this is the manufacturing of stone tools in which archaeologists try to identify how various stones were knapped by using similar knapping techniques.


In the historic huts we often see a lot of wear patterns with the tools and clothing that early explorers used  since these were utilitarian items that were used until they were worn out or broken. This week I am treating an iron feed box that was used in the stables at Cape Evans. During conservation I noticed that there were several holes in the back panel of the metal in an inconsistent pattern.

Image 1 Pony Feed Box.jpg

Back panel of the exterior on the pony feed box. Credit: AHT/Susanne


These were obviously intentionally made holes, but didn’t seem consistent with any design or planned placement. During a recent open house one of the Scott Base crew was examining the box, and because of his experience with farming, he thought the holes may have been caused by a pitchfork when the box was filled with feed.


Image 2 Pony Feed Box In Situ.jpg

A pony feed box in situ with a rake at Cape Evans. Credit: AHT/Susanne


Anything that humans use can have wear patterns. Sometimes it is up to the conservator to identify them to aid in the interpretation of the object. What kind of wear patters do the objects you use everyday have?

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