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This post first appeared online in In the Artifact Lab,  a blog run out of the article-image.

My family has a tradition that we honor at the beginning of every school year that we call “goodbye old pals.” As kids, it was a way to celebrate the start of the new school year and, maybe for our parents, the fact that we weren’t going to be around the house as much (but don’t worry – they always threw us a “hello old pals” party at the end of the school year). Well, today I’m throwing myself and Pinahsi, our New Kingdom mummy from Abydos, our own little goodbye old pals party here in the Artifact Lab, because he is leaving the lab on Monday to go back on exhibit in our Secrets and Science gallery.

Pinahsi has been in the lab for several months for conservation treatment and documentation. I’ve already written a bit about the treatment here and here, but I’ll provide a summary below using some of the before and after treatment images.

The treatment of Pinahsi’s remains was limited to the external wrappings – nothing, with the exception of a very light surface cleaning, was done to any of the exposed human remains (and only his feet are exposed). The goal of treatment was to stabilize the wrappings that were susceptible to further damage and deterioration. After surface cleaning, tears in the linen were repaired with tiny strips of Japanese tissue paper and methyl cellulose adhesive, all carried out from the underside of the linen.

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At one point, all these rocks were covered by weeds. (All photos by Luke Spencer.)

In 2008, Eileen Markenstein and a small group of dedicated volunteers decided to clean up Jersey City’s cemetery. Named the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery, it is a storied gravesite: incorporated in 1831 and privately owned by the plot holders, this is the oldest cemetery in New Jersey. In 2007 however, the last Board of Trustees president died, and with no more space for new lots, and with no more incoming funds to pay for upkeep, the venerable old cemetery closed its gates, as nature rapidly began to reclaim the graveyard.

When the 35 volunteers, many with descendants buried in the cemetery, began to clear away the thick undergrowth, they had no idea about the depth of what they would find.

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In 1741, Georg Wilhelm Steller became the first European to step foot in Alaska. Marooned there for nearly nine months after his boat ran aground, the German-born naturalist went on to discover several spectacular animals, and promptly named them all after himself. Steller’s finds range from arguably the world’s largest eagle to a whale-sized relative of the manatee to the iconic sea otter. Steller was one of the pioneering naturalists of the 18th century, yet his story — equal parts tragedy and dark comedy — is largely unknown. Steller’s life veered from the halls of Bavarian academia to shipwrecks on remote Aleutian islands. He loved animals and was chiefly responsible for one notable extinction. And he mystifies scientists to this day with a detailed description of an animal nobody has ever seen again: Steller’s Sea Ape.

Steller, whose birth name was originally Stöller, was born in 1709, near Nuremberg. Like many naturalists of his era, he was mostly interested in plants, and earned a degree in botany while in university in Berlin. But Steller had no interest in exploring the lush jungles of the tropics: instead, he moved east, ending up in the Russian army as a surgeon for a brief time. While there, he befriended another naturalist, and when that man died, Steller married his widow, Brigitta.

Soon afterward, in 1741, Steller met Captain Vitus Jonassen Bering, who commanded a ship called the St. Peter, which was chartered for exploration. The St. Peter, along with a sister ship, the St. Paul, were due to traverse what we now think of as the Bering Strait, between Russia and Alaska. The trip was a disaster. The two ships got separated almost immediately in a storm, though both ended up landing on various parts of what is now Alaska. The St. Paul crashed into some of the Aleutian Islands, but the St. Peter was the first to actually hit mainland Alaska. And guess who stepped out first? Yep, Steller.

 

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The giant random crystals of Silithus (All images by Eric Grundhauser)

As more and more of our time and lives move into the digital world, the online landscape is becoming so vast, we have begun leaving some things behind.

Namely, much like the physical world, whole swaths of towns, islands, forests, palaces, and simple shacks have been constructed digitally and then abandoned. These are the forgotten wonders of the digital world—in this case, the World of Warcraft.

For the uninitiated, World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Players download the game and pay a monthly fee to login, taking part in a shared world with everyone in their realm. At any given time, WoW has around 10 million active subscribers and to manage the unbelievable number of players, there are hundreds of realms that split up WoW subscribers. What this means, structurally, is that not of all of Warcraft's millions of players exist in the same space at the same time, but the essential size of the world, Azeroth, is fixed.

And the world is vast. At the game’s launch in 2004, Azeroth consisted of just two continents, split into 41 zones that can best be thought of as countries. Each one defined by their own look and flavor. The Barrens is a bit of the African veldt, while the Burning Steppes are a blasted, molten wasteland. In real world terms, Azeroth has been compared both in size and thematic construction to Disney World. (For geography nerds, the real world-game world comparison ratio has been explored a few different ways including delving into the code to find the in-game distance measurements, as well as using the average stride length of a player’s sprite to extrapolate some numbers (which tend to agree that the original continents are around 8 miles long).

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The world of Azeroth

 

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"I say we make base camp here, and start again in the morning." (Photo: Tim Green on Flickr)

The lush, green hedge maze has long been a symbol of baroque opulence and slightly creepy mystery. And while the classic garden ornamentation has declined in popularity in the modern age, a number of downright magical examples of the hedge maze are still growing. Take a look at seven examples of twisting garden architecture where a person can still get lost in green corners, and verdant dead ends. Just don't get lost. Remember what happened at the end of The Shining?

1. LABYRINTH PARK OF HORTA
Barcelona, Spain

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If you can find yourself here, you are probably safe. (Photo: dusanmil89 on Atlas Obscura)

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