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Thread: Century-old cans

  1. #1
    Pulsarblu's Avatar
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    Default Century-old cans

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3495783a11,00.html

    [b:b515c87694]A team of New Zealanders in Antarctica is in a race against time salvaging a cache of artefacts ? including 34 types of canned meat.[/b:b515c87694]

    The Kiwis are painstakingly digging the century-old provisions from the permafrost and transporting them back to Scott Base, where they will be restored over winter.

    The cans were among stores brought to Antarctica in 1908 by Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod expedition.

    When Shackleton and his men left the continent the following year, having fallen just short of the South Pole, they abandoned the provisions at their Cape Royds hut, in the Ross Dependency.

    They have lain outside the historic hut, near Mount Erebus, for nearly a century, and the stores are now rapidly deteriorating.

    On Sunday, the air was filled with the whiff of putrefaction as the temperature at Cape Royds climbed towards 0deg and the sun warmed the excavated boxes.

    The team is conservator Robert Clendon, of Wellington, collection co-ordinator manager Doug Rogan, formerly of Christchurch but now living in Canberra, project manager Al Fastier, of Wanaka, and archaeologist Neville Ritchie, of Hamilton.

    They have spent most of November prising boxes of canned marrow fat, sheep's tongue, rabbit curry and chicken and ham pate from the frozen ground around the hut.

    To free the stores they use a hand-held pneumatic drill, a hot-air blower, de-icing fluid ? and lots of patience.

    "It's hard yakka," said Fastier when The Press visited Cape Royds on Sunday. "Each box takes three hours to dig out. It's like chipping out a block of granite."

    The project is run by the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the Christchurch-based
    organisation that is devoted to restoring the remnants of human exploration of the southernmost continent.

    The Government-funded trust focuses on three huts used by Shackleton and Robert Scott early last century ? at Cape Royds, Cape Evans and near McMurdo Base. The Department of Conservation supports the project.

    The four men working on the canned food at Cape Royds are serious about their endeavours.

    They say a single can could be worth thousands of dollars if posted on Ebay or TradeMe. "It's a time capsule of a heroic age," said Clendon.

    Fastier said that while most New Zealanders would not get to visit the huts, most appreciated their value.

    Tourism is, however, growing in Antarctica and this year a limit of 2000 visitors has been placed on each hut.

    The men at Cape Royds are realists. While dedicated to restoring the huts to their original condition, they acknowledge they are not pristine and that earlier visitors left their imprint on the buildings.

    The trust has hired three conservation experts who will be based at Scott Base this winter. They will assess each of the hundreds of cans and other artefacts and restore as many as possible. In some cases, the labels will be peeled off the cans, restored and then glued back on.

    The trust has not yet decided the fate of the artefacts. Most will be returned to Cape Royds, but debate is raging about whether to place them inside the hut, or outside where they were found.

    This has led to some lively evening discussions at the team's camp just metres from the hut.

    Not that there is much to time to talk. The team are working 14-hour days, seven days a week, to prepare the artefacts for transport back to base before the sea ice breaks up. "We always say we will knock off when it's dark," Fastier said.

    The next sunset in Antarctica is at 1.38am on February 20.

  2. #2
    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Century-old cans

    [quote:f276ddf052="Pulsarblu"]
    They say a single can could be worth thousands of dollars if posted on Ebay or TradeMe.[/quote:f276ddf052] :icon_eek:

    Think I'll pass on that one. Any volunteers for the taste test?[img:f276ddf052]http://www.smileyville.net/mellow/star_23.gif[/img:f276ddf052]
    Mother Bear

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  3. #3
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    Default Century-old cans

    Haha!! Reminded me of stinky tofu in China...can smell them kilometers away...!

    pulsarblu

  4. #4
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    Default Century-old cans

    I'm pretty certain that our local dairy has a few on very special offer.

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    Default Century-old cans

    Th smelliest food has to be surstroming - fermented/rotted herring, eaten in Sweden. I tried it when I was there - two 2 weeks to get the smell out of the house - I was told later I shoudl have opened the tin under water to prevent this!

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    Default Century-old cans

    [quote:394870a8be="moggy"]Th smelliest food has to be surstroming - fermented/rotted herring, eaten in Sweden.[/quote:394870a8be][img:394870a8be]http://www.addis-welt.de/smilie/smilie/kotz/h0351.gif[/img:394870a8be]
    Why do people feel they need to eat this sort of thing? Was it worth putting up with the smell when you came to eat it?

    What about durian, the stinky fruit? I see them in the shops here, but haven't felt brave/foolhardy enough to take one home yet.
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  7. #7
    moggy's Avatar
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    Default Century-old cans

    [quote:7664ff6ec2="Mother Bear"][quote:7664ff6ec2="moggy"]Th smelliest food has to be surstroming - fermented/rotted herring, eaten in Sweden.[/quote:7664ff6ec2][img:7664ff6ec2]http://www.addis-welt.de/smilie/smilie/kotz/h0351.gif[/img:7664ff6ec2]
    Why do people feel they need to eat this sort of thing? Was it worth putting up with the smell when you came to eat it?

    [/quote:7664ff6ec2]
    tbh it didn't taste of anything much.

  8. #8
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    Default Century-old cans

    Guess all the flavour evaporated along with the smell. It's a wonder you weren't on the loo for days afterwards.
    Mother Bear

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