UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

A graduate conservation training program focusing on the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials

Alaska Fur ID Project: A Work in Progress

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In December 2009 UCLA/Getty graduate student, Lauren Anne Horelick gave a public talk at the Alaska State Museum about her third year internship work. Images posted here are from this presentation, which focused on the development and goals of the Alaska Fur ID project.

Pelts and photo-micrographs of animal hairs can be seen on the Alaska Fur ID web blog, which will help aid in correct identification of furs seen on cultural objects.

Pelts and photo-micrographs of animal hairs can be seen on the Alaska Fur ID web blog, which will help aid in correct identification of furs seen on cultural objects.

Conservator Ellen Carrlee conceived of the Alaska Fur ID project to help aid in correct identification of furs seen on Alaskan cultural objects. The project will culminate in a web blog that provides key insights to distinguishable features of furs. The goals of the blog are to help individuals to make quick identification of fibers through comparison of the images provided on the blog.

Examples of PLM images of guard hairs from within the Rodent family.

Examples of PLM images of guard hairs from within the Rodent family.

Correct identification of furs can inform attribution, meaning, trade relations, authenticity, and help pin-point historical periods. With these broad goals in mind Ellen Carrlee and Lauren Horelick began recording macroscopic information about furs, such as cultural use and geographic distribution. Information was recorded with hundreds of photographs of pelts and taxidermy specimens, in addition to photomicrographs of individual hair fibers. Images taken with the polarized light microscope (PLM) were annotated to help pinpoint certain diagnostic features of animal hairs to aid with identification.

Example of an annotated image of a guard hair of Red Squirrel.

Example of an annotated image of a guard hair of Red Squirrel.

Each animal has its own page of information with macro and micro-photographs in addition to images of scale casts, which are impressions of the cuticle, the outermost layer of a hair.

Examples of scale casts from a variety of different animals.

Examples of scale casts from a variety of different animals.

It is our hope that people who use the Alaska Fur ID blog will contribute their own observations and methods of analysis so that the blog can be utilized by a variety of academic fields. Targeted fields are; conservation, zooarchaeology, biology and forensics. The Alaska Fur ID project will be accessible on the web in the spring of 2010.

Lauren Horelick (’10)

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4 thoughts on “Alaska Fur ID Project: A Work in Progress

  1. This looks great and will be very useful! Thanks Lauren!

  2. This is a really great project and will be a really useful resource. I can’t wait until the site is up and running.

  3. When will this site be up and running?

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