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Decorations Revealed on Conserved Spanish Armor

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Florida Spanish BreastplatePENSACOLA, FLORIDA—The Pensacola News Journal reports that conservation of a Spanish breastplate that dates back at least 450 years has revealed decorative details on its surface. Recovered from the site of the Emanuel Point I shipwreck in 1996, the armor is thought to have been worn by a conquistador in Tristan de Luna’s army in 1559. At the time, the armor was probably about one-tenth to one-quarter of an inch thick. Now, after years underwater, the iron has been converted into iron sulfide measuring only about one-fiftieth of an inch thick. Concretions on its surface, however, measuring up to three inches thick preserved its shape. John Bratten of the University of West Florida said he poured epoxy into the back of the armor and left it to harden for several years to make a cast. Student James Gazaway has continued to clean and conserve the breastplate over the past year. “Right around the neckline there’s four parallel rows of lines about one millimeter apart,” he said. “Very precise, definitely inscribed, and part of the original decoration work on the piece.” To read in-depth about exploration of a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico, go to “All Hands on Deck.”

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