French shipwreck to be rebuilt after freeze drying process

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A French explorer's ship that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in the 17th century is to be rebuilt after undergoing a complex freeze drying operation, the first such undertaking of its size.

By placing the ship – La Belle – in a constant environment of up to 60 degrees below zero, more than 300 years of moisture will be safely removed from hundreds of European oak and pine timbers and planks.

The freeze-dryer, located at the old Bryan Air Force base several miles northwest of College Station, is 40 feet long and 8 feet wide – the biggest such machine on the continent devoted to archaeology.

Researchers will then rebuild the 54 ½-foot vessel, which will become the centrepiece of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin....

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