John K Jordan
Most exotic wood blanks are waxed to keep them from drying out too fast and cracking. Usually the wax means the wood is wet inside but not always. Besides the fact it might already have been drying for 10 years, occasionally a dealer will wax a drier piece for looks. I do the same as JohnL, expecting it to be wet and planning to dry for some time.
I generally scrape heavy wax off the sides with a card scraper and put the piece up to dry for a while, usually for several years.
If the piece feels far heavier than previous pieces of the same species, very wet is likely although guessing like this is very iffy even with a bunch of experience or with another older piece in hand. If you cut into the wood it will feel cooler if wet. A moisture meter can help but that's not a sure thing either, even if it is set for the book specific gravity values.
I might turn small pieces like 1"-2" squares wet, let dry, then true up just like rough turning a bowl. I turned a piece of 2x2 olive like this just a few days ago. I'll set it aside to dry for a month or so before finishing.
As mentioned, the wax is only skin deep and is turned away. If I needed a square pommel I might skim off the wax with the bandsaw or something before turning.