Much work has been carried out on the object along with several interesting discoveries since the initial blog post about the artifact on March 15, 2010. The best thought at the current time is that the artifact is some kind of swing valve.
After several weeks of the object having gone through electrolytic reduction, the screws holding the valve piece on the interior of the object were carefully removed and the components separated. The fragmented gasket in between the two main sections was also removed. Mechanical and chemical cleaning was also conducted.
View of copper alloy body with components removed.
Upon disassembly of the interior components, the valve that was thought most likely to be composed of rubber is in fact made from leather, possible cow or pig. To my knowledge this is the first valve/gasket material not made from rubber found on the wreck thus far.
On the surface of the valve, the imprints of the copper components can be readily identified. Also visible across the surface of the object is a random pattern of small holes, which are actually hair follicles!
As for the lower portion of the artifact, upon cleaning the surface, a large amount of lead was identified having been used as solder to adhere the copper piping to either end of the valve. Another interesting discovery with this object is a silvery surface visible under the pink copper and lead, but over the main copper alloy body. This material is possibly nickel silver (also known as German silver) a copper, nickel, zinc alloy.
More info to come