There is a large body of conservation research that conservators refer to and build upon when evaluating objects and choosing and performing treatments. Much research concentrates on materials characterization, materials degradation, materials technology, evaluation of modern polymers, and the effects of conservation treatments on materials. Much conservation research has practical applications. Conservation research takes place in many different venues, including museum laboratories, conservation study programs, and other university laboratories. In addition, research from other disciplines, including dentistry, corrosion science, coatings technology, bio-deterioration, is highly valuable to conservation.
Below are several examples of past and ongoing research topics that are important to archaeological conservation in particular:
Another type of research that is valuable to the conservation profession is studies that document and evaluate past conservation treatments. Evaluating conservation materials and techniques used in the past helps to understand the condition of treated artifacts in older collections, and also helps to guide research into new modern materials and techniques. Some examples of this are:
A survey of the different polymers used to consolidate archaeological and palaeontological bone
Conservation research is published primarily in journals dedicated to conservation and in conservation conference proceedings. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of many conservation projects, conservation research may also be published as chapters in archaeological reports, and in journals dedicated to materials science or to the material under study. Many research projects are unpublished reports in laboratory archives, or unpublished dissertations from academic conservation programs. Some of the major conservation publications are below:
The two primary databases for searching conservation literature are:
Cronyn, J. (1990) The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. London: Routledge.
Corzo, M. & Hodges, H., eds., (1987) In Situ Archaeological Conservation. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.
Pearson, C., ed., (1987) Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Robinson, W. (1998) First Aid for Underwater Finds. London: Archetype Books.
Sease, C. (1994) A Conservation Manual for the Field Archaeologist. Los Angeles: UCLA Institue of Archaeology.
Singley, K. (1988) The Conservation of Archaeological Artifacts from Freshwater Environments. Michigan: Lake Michigan Maritime Museum.
Watkinson, D. & Neal, V. (1998) First Aid for Finds. London: Rescue/UKIC Archaeology Section.
Jones, J. (2001) "A Bronze-Age Burial from North-East England: Lifting and Excavation." In: Williams, E. (Ed.), Human Remains: Conservation, Retrieval and Analysis. BAR International Series 934. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Payton, R. (1992) Retrieval of Objects from Archaeological Sites. London: Archetype Books
Koob, S. (1986) The Use of Paraloid B-72 as an Adhesive: Its Application for Archaeological Ceramics and Other Materials. Studies in Conservation 31:7-14.
Johnson, J. (2001 ) "A Long-Term Look at Polymers Used to Preserve Bone." In: Williams, E. (Ed.), Human Remains: Conservation, Retrieval and Analysis. BAR International Series 934. Archaeopress: Oxford.
Johnson, J. (1994) Consolidation of Archaeological Bone from a Conservation Perspective. Journal of Field Archaeology (21): 221-233
Horie, C.V. (1987) Materials for Conservation: Organic consolidants, Adhesives and Coatings. Butterworth-Heinemann: London.
Lang, J & Middleton, A. (1997) Radiography of Cultural Material. Butterworth-Heinemann: London.
Acton, L. & McAuley, P. (1996) Repairing Pottery and Porcelain: A Practical Guide. Lyons and Burford: New York.
Buys, S. & Oakley, V. (1993) Conservation and Restoration of Ceramics. Butterworth-Heinemann: London.
Williams, N (2002) Porcelain Repair and Restoration. The British Museum Press: London.
Newton, R & Davison, S. (1997) Conservation of Glass. Butterworth-Heinemann: London.
Most of the general texts cover metal corrosion and stabilization well. The following articles deal with specific techniques or materials:
Carlin, Keith, & Rodriquez (2001) Less is More: Measure of Chloride Removal Rate from Iron artifacts during Electrolysis. Studies in Conservation, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 68-76.
Gilberg, M, & Seeley, N. (1981) The Identity of Compounds Containing chloride Ions in Marine Iron Corrosion Products: A Critical Review. Studies in Conservation 26:50-56.
Keene, S., & Orton, C. (1985) Stability of Treated Archaeological Iron: An Assessment. Studies in Conservation 30:136-142
Merk, L. (1981) The Effectiveness of Benzotriazole in the Inhibition of the Corrosive Behavior of Stripping Reagents on Bronzes. Studies in Conservation 26:73-76.
Turgoose, S. (1982) Post-Excavation Changes in Iron Antiquities. Studies in Conservation 27:97-101.
Turgoose, S. (1985) The Corrosion of Archaeological Iron During Burial and Treatment. Studies in Conservation 30:13-18.
Watkinson, D. (1983) Degree of Mineralization: Its Significance for the Stability and Ttreatment of Excavated Ironwork. Studies in Conservation 28:85-90.
Wihr, R. (1975) Electrolytic Desalination of Archaeological Iron. In Conservation in Archaeology and the Applied Arts, pp. 189-191. IIC: London.
Most of the general texts cover wood deterioration and stabilization well. The following articles deal with specific techniques or materials:
Hoffmann, P. (1986) On the Stabilization of Waterlogged Oakwood with PEG. II: Designing a Two-Step Treatment for Multi-Quality Timbers. Studies in Conservation 31:103-113.
Parrent, J. M. (1985) The Conservation of Waterlogged Wood Using Sucrose. Studies in Conservation 30:63-72.
Unger, A., Schniewind, A., and Unger, W. (2001) Conservation of wooden Artifacts. Springer: Berlin
Watson, J. (1982) The Application of Freeze-Drying on British Hardwoods from Archaeological Excavations. In Proceedings of the ICOM Waterlogged Wood Working Group Conference, edited by D. W. Grattan, pp. 237-242. Waterlogged Wood Working Group, Committee for Conservation, ICOM, Ottowa.
Copyright © 2006 Colleen Brady, Molly Gleeson, Melba Myers, Claire Peachey, Betty Seifert, Howard Wellman, Emily Williams, Lisa Young. All rights reserved. Commercial use or publication of text and graphic images is prohibited. Authors reserve the right to update this information as appropriate.