Archaeologists at Jamestown excavate artifacts that have been buried in the ground for many years. Over time, these objects naturally decay, rust, or fall apart. A conservator is a person who uses different scientific techniques to gently clean and preserve artifacts after they have been removed from the ground. Conserving materials, like metals, is an important step for studying what they originally looked like and for helping them last into the future.

Watch below to see conservator Michael Lavin gently cleaning a padlock found at Jamestown using air abrasion. This technique uses a stream of air and different types of powders to knock off rust and other small particles. Before watching, try guessing how many hours it will take him to clean the padlock!