Archaeological Conservation

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Copyright 2024. The Archaeological Conservation Wiki pages are a publication of the Archaeological Heritage Network of the American Institute for Conservation. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. This information is published as a convenience for the members of the Archaeological Heritage Network, and is intended to be used by conservators, museum professionals, and members of the public for educational purposes only. It is not designed to substitute for the consultation of a trained conservator.

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About archaeological conservation[edit | edit source]

Archaeological conservation is a profession devoted to the preservation of the archaeological record. That record exists as landscapes, sites, buildings, structures, and artifacts, as well as less tangible aspects of cultural heritage: religious, ceremonial, or cultural functions; sightlines; or ancient roadways, pathways and waterways. Working with other archaeological professions (e.g. bioarchaeologists, paleobotanists, architects, materials scientists, imaging specialists, art historians, etc.), archaeological conservators investigate how structures and artifacts were made, used, and disposed; and stabilize and preserve the material remains of the past, their scientific value, and their cultural significance.

Archaeological conservation is guided by ethical principles that derive from the understanding that these materials are "primary resources for understanding and interpreting the past."[1] Because the goal of archaeological conservation is to facilitate understanding and interpretation of the archaeological record, treatment goals and methodologies for archaeological material may differ from goals for non-archaeological material. The appropriate approach to preservation can require direction from, and collaboration with, living communities that have connections to ancient cultures and sites. In some cases, the correct course of action is to avoid intervention.

Scientific archaeological investigations uncover sites and artifacts in wide-ranging geographical areas of past and current human habitation, including dense urban settings, deep under the sea, [2] and in the most extreme environments that humans have explored[3] [4]. Accordingly, archaeological conservators work all over the globe, in the field and in archaeological repositories, museums, and in private practice.

Archaeological context, loss of context, and the illegal antiquities market[edit | edit source]

At many archaeological sites, buildings, floor mosaics, walls and wall paintings, altars, and other monuments are left in situ to preserve their contexts – their relationships to each other and to the site – while smaller objects are removed from the site to facilitate study, and for safer storage in secure depots. The movement of archaeological materials and resulting dissociation from contexts can be highly contentious subjects, and conservators should be aware of the deep literature on the political, historical and sociological ramifications of archaeological practice. In the past, foreign excavations routinely made legal arrangements with governments to remove archaeological materials from sites in order to accession them into museum or university collections in other countries. Today, most moveable archaeological materials remain in the countries where they are excavated, in local storage depots or local or national museums. Unfortunately, the legal and illegal trade in antiquities continues to separate movable objects from their archaeological contexts, sometimes with permanent loss of information critical to their correct interpretation and analysis.

Conservators working in the trench to stabilize finds. Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University)

Archaeological conservators are bound by professional ethics to preserve archaeological remains and evidence of their contexts. For that reason, professional conservators may decline to work on material with an unknown archaeological provenience or with movement histories that do not conform to legal code. Individual cases may raise additional ethical questions.

Codes and legislation[edit | edit source]

Ethics codes and guidelines[edit | edit source]

AIA code of ethics [1]

AIC code of ethics [2]

ASOR code of conduct [3]

SAA principles of archaeological ethics [4]

SHA ethics statement [5]

Legislation[edit | edit source]

1954: Hague Convention: Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict [6]

1964: Venice Charter: International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites [7]

1966: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act [8]

1970: Convention of the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property [9]

1990: Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage [10]

1990: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act [11]

2013: The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance [12]

See also: International Charters for Conservation and Restoration [13]

Resources regarding the illegal antiquities trade[edit | edit source]

Databases of stolen archaeological objects[edit | edit source]

The Art Loss Register [14]

Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) Object Registry of New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art [15]

Commission for Looted Art in Europe [16]

International Foundation for Art Research [17]

Lost Treasures from Iraq, Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, University of Chicago [18]

National Stolen Art File Search, The Federal Bureau of Investigation [19]

Red Lists Database, ICOM [20]

National and international efforts to stop the illegal trade of antiquities[edit | edit source]

The Antiquities Coalition [21]

Association for Research into Crimes Against Art [22]

Cultural Antiquities Task Force, US Department of State [23]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Program [24]

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods [25]

ICOM Object ID [26]

SAFE: Saving Antiquities for Everyone [27]

UNESCO Fight Illicit Trafficking, Return, and Restitution of Cultural Property [28]

Finding an archaeological conservator[edit | edit source]

AIC Find a Professional tool[edit | edit source]

Please follow this link to the Find a Professional tool on the AIC's website.

How to ensure a good fit for your project[edit | edit source]

(Types of information that an archaeologist should provide about a site ex. types of artifacts expected, timing, where artifacts will be stored, equipment on site, etc., and questions to ask an archaeological conservator)

Theoretical approaches and ethical considerations[edit | edit source]

Include general statements touching on each of these topics, roughly 1-2 paragraphs for each bullet points and referencing significant publications on these topics.
a. Objectives of archaeological conservation (data preservation; facilitating interpretation of a site/object; preserving structural, chemical, and physical integrity of materials for future study and use; accessibility)
b. Processes of conservation: investigation, intervention, preventive care/maintenance
c. Collaboration and communication (with archaeologists, research specialists, scientists; national/regional antiquities authorities; local community; practical adaptations to limited economic/human resources)
d. Objects with unknown provenance, illegally exported material, looted artifacts

Archaeological conservation in practice[edit | edit source]

Training[edit | edit source]

Fieldwork[edit | edit source]

Tools used by conservators while working in the trench to stabilize finds before lifting. Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University)

This links to a page on Archaeological Conservation in the Field that covers pre-excavation planning, field labs, techniques, personal safety, etc.)

Preservation in burial[edit | edit source]

Burial environment determines the deterioration and preservation of archaeological remains. In general, moisture, oxygen, heat, pressure, and agents of biodeterioration accelerate deterioration, via a combination of processes that include chemical alterations, structural damage, and decomposition. In terrestrial environments, soil moisture, pH, salinity, ground water penetration, and soil microbiome have a large effect on the types of materials that are preserved. In waterlogged environments, water temperature, oxygen content, pH, water flow, and specific biological organisms have a great effect on preservation.

Inorganic materials are better preserved in a wider variety of conditions than organic materials. However, inorganic materials do alter in burial: metals corrode, porous materials like stone and ceramic absorb destructive groundwater salts, glass delaminates, calcareous materials dissolve, and all materials fracture. Organic materials are usually best preserved in hot, dry environments such as deserts; in colder, wetter, or waterlogged environments with relatively constant temperatures and low oxygen content;, or in frozen environments. For the most part,organic materials do not survive well in burial conditions that subject them to moisture cycles and biological attack, but exceptions are known.

Deterioration post-excavation[edit | edit source]

Excavation allows us to learn a great deal about the past through studying archaeological remains and their context, but exposing structures or artifacts that have stabilized in burial can cause rapid and irreversible deterioration on both macroscopic and microscopic levels, impacting our ability to retrieve information about the past. Underground, objects are given structural support from surrounding soil, and are held at a fairly stable temperature and relative humidity. When excavated, objects loose their underground structural support, and immediately are exposed to different temperatures, moisture levels, and oxygen levels. The stress of going from a supportive, controlled environment underground to a radically different and variable environment in the open air can be extremely destructive. For this reason, artifacts that have survived millennia in burial may deteriorate rapidly post-excavation unless preservation steps are taken.

Components of buildings or monuments in situ have different preservation needs from smaller objects that can be relocated to a controlled environment. Even if backfilled (reburied), in situ excavated remains must be protected not only from exposure to the elements, but also from visitor traffic, vandalism, and iconoclasm. Visitor traffic, vandalism, and iconoclasm may also impact artifacts in interior settings; but artifacts relocated to interior environments also have a different set of preservation needs specific to how they are stored, utilized for study, and displayed.

Archives and repositories[edit | edit source]

Laboratory conservation[edit | edit source]

(institutional and private collections)

Community outreach[edit | edit source]

Conservation and care of specific archaeological materials[edit | edit source]

Siliceous materials[edit | edit source]

Metals[edit | edit source]

This information is intended to be used by conservators, museum professionals, and members of the public for educational purposes only. It is not designed to substitute for the consultation of a trained conservator. To find a conservator, please visit AIC's Find a Conservator page. For more information visit AIC's Resource Center.

The treatment of freshly excavated archaeological metals is a complicated subject. Metal preservation varies based on types of objects, soil composition and pH, and exposure to the elements, all of which are variables specific to each archaeological site. Even within a single site, there can be significant variation. Conservators working on site may face limited time, space, and other resources, particularly with regard to analytical equipment and chemicals normally available in more established laboratories. Treatment of metal objects on an archaeological site is typically broken down into two phases: on site (in the trench) stabilization for excavation and lifting (involving conservators as necessary) and cleaning, stabilization, and repair in the lab after excavation.

Stabilization for Excavation and Lifting

Conservators working in the trench to help excavate and stabilize finds before lifting. Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University)

Archaeological metals are likely be structurally deteriorated due to corrosion in the burial environment. Metal tools should be avoided, and softer tools like wooden or plastic skewers, spatulas, brushes, or air puffers should be used to loosen the soil around the object to prepare for lifting without damaging the surface. Facing with tissue may be necessary to preserve the arrangement of dislocated fragments in order to safely remove the metal artifacts from the ground. If metals are moist while in the ground, they should be kept damp to avoid rapid drying until they can be treated by conservators. Metals should be cushioned during transport to the laboratory. An initial identification from the excavator will help determine the course of treatment in the conservation lab, but burial dirt can obscure important details, such as remnants of gilding or surface inscriptions, so metals should be examined by a conservator as soon as possible after they are removed from the ground. In complicated situations, additional measures such as applying a layer of cyclododecane or additional support from aluminum foil can be used to allow fragile objects to be lifted from the ground.

Cleaning, Stabilization, and Repair

Conservator working in the lab to clean finds after excavation. Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University)

Generally, conservators try to use the least interventive approach possible with the goal of stabilizing the metal object to enable study, safe handling, and long- term preservation in proper storage conditions. For metals such as lead, gold, and silver, this may indeed mean “minimal” treatment when the objects are well preserved. These metals are frequently only lightly brushed off and are generally cleaned without the use of water or solvents. They may occasionally be coated, but usually only when intensive handling is expected.

Conservator working in the trench to stabilize an iron chair before lifting. Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University

Archaeological iron may also vary in condition, with surfaces obscured by iron oxide corrosion products, while some artifacts are completely converted to magnetite from contact with the burial environment. Typically iron objects are cleaned of surface dirt with soft tools and may be coated/consolidated if in fragile condition due to extensive corrosion and/or mineralization. Coating is usually carried out after a soak in solvent to dehydrate the metal. In some cases, iron objects may continue to “sweat” or “weep” due to continued corrosion from exposure to high RH environments after excavation. (See CCI Notes 9/1 and 9/6 for more information).

Copper alloys (bronze, brass, arsenical copper alloys, etc.) vary widely in their state of preservation upon excavation due to their composition, history of use, and burial conditions. In the field, conservators generally categorize objects as copper alloy (a generic term) unless it is possible to make a more specific identification through microchemical tests or other analysis. While some copper alloys are well preserved, many suffer from what is termed “bronze disease,” and conservators must intervene to prevent further corrosion of the metal post-excavation that can have devastating effects and cause the eventual disintegration of the object. Special care must be taken with gilt or silvered surfaces, the upper layers of which may be compromised due to corrosion of the underlying copper-alloy metals.

“Bronze disease is a progressive deterioration of ancient copper alloys caused by the existence of cuprous chloride (nantokite) in close proximity to whatever metallic surface may remain. Cuprous chloride may lie dormant until reaction with moisture and oxygen causes this unstable compound to expand in volume on conversion to one of the copper trihydroxychlorides. This creates physical stress within the object affected, resulting in cracking or fragmentation.” (Scott 2002, p 125)

While studies of bronze disease date back over 100 years (with early work by Rathgen and Berthelot), the reactions between the copper corrosion products formed in burial are thermodynamically complex and not yet completely understood (Scott 2002, 129). One assumption has been that high (free) chloride contents in excavated metals indicate susceptibility to further corrosion, and that cleaning and desalination are needed to stabilize the metal. Historically many different treatments have been undertaken to preserve copper alloys from archaeological contexts, both in the field and later in museum collections. In recent decades, treatment of archaeological metals on site has typically included one or more of the following steps: (1) mechanical cleaning, usually aided by (2) water or solvents, (3) desalination through soaking in deionized water, (4) treatment with corrosion inhibitors such as benzotriazole, and (5) coating with synthetic resins to provide a barrier layer to protect the object from handling. Other chemical, electrochemical and electrolytic methods have also been used to clean copper alloys, through these techniques can be quite damaging and may aggressively strip away surface patina if not performed in a controlled manner. Conservators should always try to document and preserve surface information embedded in corrosion products, such as pseudomorphs indicating contact with other materials (e.g. textiles or wood).

Chemical structure of Benzotriazole

Corrosion inhibitors

Benzotriazole (BTA) as a corrosion inhibitor has been extensively used but questions remain about its efficacy. It is usually applied in an ethanol solution in low concentrations with the aid of a vacuum dessicator (this protocol seems to have been in use since at least the 1970s at the Institute of Archaeology, London) (Scott 2002, p379). BTA molecules are thought to complex with CuCl preventing further bronze disease outbreaks from occurring. However, in many cases the chloride corrosion is not stabilized by one treatment of BTA, and other methods may be required to stabilize problematic objects. Other corrosion inhibitors such as cysteine and AMT (5-amino-2-mercapto-1,3,4-thiadiazole) have also been tested, but BTA remains the most commonly used (see 2015 Copper Alloy Treatment Survey).

This copper alloy sheet metal fragment was cleaned, treated with corrosion inhibitor, and coated. Bridges of Japanese tissue were made on the reverse to stabilize cracks. Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University)

Coatings and Adhesives

Many metals found in excavation are fragmented and may need to be reconstructed after cleaning and initial study. Metals are often coated to prevent damage from handling, and the coating additionally consolidates the surface in cases in which corrosion has caused loss of structural or surface integrity. Today, stable, non-yellowing, and reversible acrylic resins such as Paraloid B72, B44 or B48N [Rohm and Haas] are commonly chosen for this purpose, and these same resins are used in thicker concentrations as an adhesive for joining metal fragments.

Preventive measures to prevent further corrosion include storing the metal in a dry storage environment, as exposure to moisture and oxygen lead to active corrosion. Some conservators have experimented with the use of oxygen scavengers and non-permeable films to encapsulate metals for additional protection (e.g. the Revolutionary Protection "RP" System). Proper protective housing using archival quality materials is important to protect the objects from harm while stored in an archaeological depot or museum storage.

Organic materials[edit | edit source]

(incl. bone/ivory) English Heritage Guide to preserving waterlogged organic artifacts [5]

Archaeological Textiles

Textiles are comprised of animal or plant fibers that have been shaped or woven into fabric. Animal fibers such as wool consist primarily of protein and are more resistant to decay. Plant fibers such as cotton consist primarily of cellulose and are more susceptible to bacteria and decay in archaeological environments. The most common textile materials found on archaeological sites are cotton, wool, and silk (Hamilton 2011).

The treatment of a textile depends on the condition when found in the archaeological record. Because textiles are typically fragile from various factors of deterioration including original use, hydrolysis, staining, and oxidation, it is imperative that the textile is handled with great care. Mechanical cleaning a textile is the manual process of using tools to remove unwanted silt, dirt, and sediment that have adhered to the surface of the textile (CCI 2011).

Textiles tend to trap dust and sediment due to their fibrous texture and porous nature (CCI 2011). If left in place, dust and sediment can be a source of further deterioration allowing silt particles to rupture delicate animal and plant fibers (Cronyn 1990). For example, “gritty particles (especially crystalline materials) have sharp edges that abrade and cut fibres when the textile is moved or manipulated” (CCI 2011). Dust and sediment particles can attract destructive materials from the atmosphere including acidic or oxidizing agents that, combined with moisture can instigate destructive chemical reactions (CCI 2011).

Mechanical cleaning of archaeological textiles is effective for removing the surface particles. The removal of stains often requires chemical cleaning or washing that should only be carried out by a professional textile conservator (CCI 2011). Prior to cleaning the textile, it is important to understand the nature of the soil in regards to the context of the artifact. For example, “battlefield on a military uniform may provide documentary evidence about how the textile was used, and should be retained” (CCI 2011). Dirt and sediment that has accumulated due to the location or storage of the artifact usually has no significance and should be removed. The condition of the textiles must also be considered. If a textile is in good, sturdy condition it is unlikely mechanical cleaning with soft brushes or a low suction vacuum will damage the artifact. However, if the textile appears fragile with unstable fibers the object should not be mechanically cleaned (CCI 2011).

The mechanical cleaning of a textile involves the use of tools such as scalpels, dental picks, brushes, sponges, ultrasonic tools, and low suction vacuum cleaners. Before the cleaning begins, it is important to place the textile on a clean flat surface or rigid support based on the needs of the textile (Peacock 2005). Light suction with a vacuum cleaner can be one of the easiest ways to mechanically clean a textile. The entire surface of the textile should be covered with a nylon monofilament screening to protect the textile and prevent loose fibers from being drawn into the nozzle of the cleaner (Finch et al 1977). The screening should be firm and rigid allowing the nozzle of the cleaner to move over the entire surface of the textile until it has been thoroughly cleaned. The use of nylon monofilament screening makes mechanical cleaning safe for the textile and efficient and easy for the operator (Finch et al 1977).

When textiles are too fragile for vacuum cleaning, tool such as brushes, sponges or tweezers might be useful (Cronyn 1990). These tools can be found at artist suppliers or cosmetic counters. Tweezers can be used to carefully remove particles by picking them off, when done carefully this method is less forceful than vacuum cleaning (CCI 2011). When using brushes and sponges follow the direction of the warp or weft pattern if one is present. Gently roll brushes or sponges over the soiled textile surface instead of dragging; this will prevent further deterioration of the textile (Finch et al 1977). Work slowly and methodically to clean the entire surface of the textile, repeating the process on the reverse side.

Ultimately, mechanical cleaning is not always possible with all textiles. Textiles can often times be too delicate to undergo the manual process of removing dirt, sediment, and staining. A conservator who specializes in textile conservation should carefully evaluate these textiles for future cleaning and treatment.

Professional organizations, committees, and working groups[edit | edit source]

  • Archaeological Discussion Group (OSG, AIC)
  • Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)
  • Conservation and Site Preservation Committee (AIA)
  • Cultural Heritage Policy Committee (AIA)
  • American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR)
  • Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA)
  • Society for American Archaeology (SAA)
  • International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)
  • The Institute of Conservation (ICON)
  • Archaeology Group (ICON)
  • International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
  • U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS)
  • Numerous International Scientific Committees, including Underwater Cultural Heritage, Archaeological Heritage Management, and Wall Paintings, etc.
  • International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS, ICOM)
  • International Council of Museums - Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC)
  • Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Working Group (ICOM-CC)
  • International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
  • InternationalCommittee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM)
  • MOSAIKON (the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, ICCROM, and ICCM)
  • U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS)

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

General publications

Bourque, B.J. et al. 1980. Conservation in archaeology: moving toward closer cooperation. American Antiquity 45(4): 794-799.

Caple, C. 2010. Conservation: Concepts and Reality. In The Conservation of Archaeological Materials: Current Trends and Future Directions, ed. Emily Williams and Claire Peachey, 1–10. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Caple, C. 2000. Conservation skills: judgement, method and decision making. New York: Routledge.

Cronyn, J.M. 1990. The elements of archaeological conservation. New York: Routledge.

Hodges, H.W.M. and Corzo, M.A. 1987. In situ archaeological conservation. Proceedings of the Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia de Mexico and the Getty Conservation Institute Meetings, Mexico City, Mexico, 6-13 April 1986. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.

Lipe, W.D. 1974. A conservation model for American archaeology. The Kiva 39(3-4): 213-45.

Roy, A. and P. Smith, eds. 1996. Archaeological conservation and its consequences. IIC preprints. International Institute for Conservation Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, 26-30 August 1996. London: IIC.

Rozeik, C., A. Roy, and D. Saunders, eds. 2010. Conservation and the Eastern Mediterranean, contributions to the Istanbul Congress, 20-24 September 2010. London: IIC.

Stanley Price, N., ed. 1995. Conservation of archaeological excavations: with particular reference to the Mediterranean area. 2nd ed. Rome: ICCROM.

Torraca, G. 1982. Porous building materials: materials science for architectural conservation. 3rd ed. Rome: ICCROM.

Torraca, G. 2009. Lectures on materials science for architectural conservation. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust. Available on-line at:

Watkinson, D. and V. Neal. 1988. First aid for finds. 3rd ed. Hertford, Hertfordshire: British Archaeological Trust/UKIC Archaeology Section.

Williams, E. and C. Peachey. 2010. The conservation of archaeological materials, current trends and future directions. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, International Series 2116.

Archaeology and conservation

Archaeological Institute of America. Archaeology 101.

Archaeological Institute of America. Archaeology books for adults.

Matero F. 2006. Making archaeological sites: conservation as interpretation of an excavated past. In Of the past, for the future: integrating archaeology and conservation, proceedings of the conservation theme at the 5th World Archaeological Congress, Washington, D.C., 22-26 June 2003, The Getty Conservation Institute symposium proceedings series, ed. N. Agnew and J. Bridgeland. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute. 55-63.

Matero, F. 2008. Heritage, conservation, and archaeology: an introduction.

Rotroff, S. 2001. Archaeologists on conservation: how codes of archaeological ethics and professional standards treat conservation. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 40: 137-146.

Sease, C. 1992. A conservation manual for the field archaeologist. 2nd ed. In Archaeological research tools, vol. 4. Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, University of California.

Society of Historical Archaeology. Conservation FAQ's and Facts.

Retrieval techniques

Payton, R., ed. 1992. Retrieval of objects from archaeological sites. Denbygh, Wales: Archetype.

UKIC Archaeology Section. 1983. Conservation guidelines no.2, packaging and storage of freshly excavated artifacts from archaeological sites. London: UKIC.

Watkinson, D., ed. 1987. First aid for finds. 2nd ed. London: UKIC Archaeology Section.

Conservation of structures and sites

Agnew, N. and J. Bridgland, eds. 2006. Of the past, for the future: integrating conservation and archaeology. Proceedings of the Conservation Theme at the 5th World Archaeological Congress, Washington, D.C., 22-26 June 2003. Los Angeles, The Getty Conservation Institute.

Ashurt, J., ed. 2007. Conservation of ruins. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.

De la Torre, M., ed. 1997. The conservation of archaeological sites in the Mediterranean region: report on an international conference. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.

Demas, M. 2003. Conservation and management of archaeological sites. A select annotated bibliography. The Getty Conservation Institute Project Bibliography Series. Available on-line at:

International Council of Monuments and Sites. 1964. The international charter for the conservation and restoration of monuments and sites (The Venice Charter). Available on-line at:

International Council of Monuments and Sites. 1990. Charter for the protection and management of the archaeological heritage. Available on-line at:

Kavazanjian, E., Jr. 2004. The use of geosynthetic for archaeological site reburial. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 6(3&4): 377-393.

Mertens, D. 1995. Planning and executing anastylosis of stone buildings. In Conservation on archaeological excavations, ed. N. Stanley-Price. 2nd ed. Rome: International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property. 121-133

Nardi, R. 2010. Conservation in archaeology: case studies in the mediterranean region.

Nixon, T., ed. 2004. Preserving archaeological remains in situ? Proceedings of the 2nd Conference, 12-14 September 2001. London, United Kingdom.

Roby, T., L. Alberti and E. Carbonara. 2011. Technician Training for the Maintenance of In Situ Mosaics: 2011 Edition. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute. Available on-line at:

Stanley-Price, N. 2009. The reconstruction of ruins: principles and practice. In Conservation: principles, dilemmas and uncomfortable truths, ed. A. Richmond and A. Bracker. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd. 32-46. Available on-line at:

Stanley-Price, N. and R. Burch, eds. 2004. Special issue on site reburial. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites. 6(3-4). London: James and James.

Stanley-Price, N. and F. Matero, eds. 2001. Special issue on protective shelters. Conservation and management of archaeological sites. 5(1-2). London: James and James.

Stewart, J. 2012. The stabilization and protection of archaeological sites from natural processes. In Selected readings from a course in the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property ATHAR Programme (Conservation of Cultural Heritage in the Arab Region): Issues in the Conservation and Management of Heritage Sites, ed. International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property. Sharjah: International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property. 83-91.

Sullivan, S. and R. Mackay, eds. 2012. Archaeological sites: conservation and management. Readings in conservation series. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, J. Paul Getty Trust.

Teutonico, J.M. and G. Palumbo, eds. 2002. Management planning of archaeological sites. International Workshop Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute and Loyola Marymount University, 19-22 May 2000. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.

Archaeological metals conservation (general)

Canadian Conservation Institute. 2007. Recognizing active corrosion. CCI Notes (9/1) .Canadian Conservation Institute.

Gilberg, M. 1987. Friedrich Rathgen: The Father of Modern Archaeological Conservation. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 26 (2): 105-120. Logan, J. 2007. Identifying archaeological metals. CCI Notes (4/1) Canadian Conservation Institute. (original 2002, revised 2007)

Plenderleith, H.J. 1956. The Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art, London: Oxford University Press.

Schotte, B. and A. Adriaens. 2006. Treatments of Corroded Lead Artefacts, An Overview. Studies in Conservation (51): 1-8.

Scott, D. 1983. The Deterioration of Gold Alloys and Some Aspects of Their Conservation. Studies in Conservation 28(4): 194-203.

Scott, D., J. Podany, and B. Considine, eds. 1994. Ancient & Historic Metals: Conservation and Scientific Research. Proceedings of a Symposium on Ancient and Historic Metals organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Conservation Institute, November 1991. Los Angeles, Getty Conservation Institute.

Selwyn, L. 2004. Metals and Corrosion. A handbook for the conservation professional. Canadian Conservation Institute.

Watkinson, D. 2010. Preservation of metallic cultural heritage. in Cottis, R. A. ed. Shreir's Corrosion. 4th ed., Vol. 4. London: Elsevier, 3307-3340.

Wharton, G. and H.K. Ersoy. 2002. Conservation of Metal Artifacts on Archaeological Sites. Field Notes: Practical Guides for Archaeological Conservation and Site Preservation (Number 11). Japanese Institute for Anatolian Archaeology. (Also in Turkish).

Archaeological textiles

Canadian Conservation Institute. 2011. CCI Notes 13/16 "Mechanical Surface Cleaning of Textiles". In: CCI Notes.1-5. Accessed March 30, 2013. [1].

Cronyn, J.M. 1990. The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. Routledge, London.

Finch, Karen, and Greta Putnam. 1977. Caring for Textiles. London: Barrie & Jenkins.

Hamilton, Donny. 2011. "Textile Conservation". In: Conservation Research Laboratory of the Nautical Archaeology Program. Texas A&M University. Accessed March 30, 2013. [2].

Peacock, E. 2005. "Investigation of Conservation Methods for a Textile Recovered from the American Civil War Submarine H.L. Hunley (1864)". In: Proceedings of the 9th Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conference. Copenhagen.497-512.

Treatment of archaeological iron

Canadian Conservation Institute. 2007. Care and cleaning of Iron. CCI notes, 9/6. Canadian Conservation Institute. (originally published 1995).

---. 2007. Storage of Metals. CCI Notes 9/2. Canadian Conservation Institute. (originally published 1995).

---. 2013. Tannic Acid Treatment. CCI Notes 9/5. Canadian Conservation Institute. (originally published 1989).

Green, L. and S. Bradley. 1995.An investigation of strategies for the long-term storage of archaeological iron. Metal 95. London: James & James Ltd. 305-309.

Keene, S. 1984. The performance of coatings and consolidants used on archaeological iron. Adhesives and Consolidants. IIC Paris 1984. International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Knight, B. 1990. A Review of the Corrosion of Iron from Terrestrial Sites and the Problem of Post-Excavation Corrosion. The Conservator (14): 37-43.

Mathias, C., K. Ramsdale, and D. Nixon. 2004. Saving archaeological iron using the Revolutionary Preservation System. Proceedings of Metal 2004 National Museum of Australia Canberra ACT (4-8) October 2004. 28-42.

Selwyn, L., P.J. Sirois and V. Argyropoulos. 1999. The corrosion of excavated archaeological iron with details on weeping and akaganeite. Studies in Conservation (44): 217-232.

Selwyn, L. and V. Argyropoulos.2005.Removal of Chloride and iron ions from archaeological wrought iron with sodium hydroxide and ethylenediamine solutions. Studies in Conservation (50): 81-100.

Wang, Q. 2007. An Investigation of Deterioration of Archaeological Iron. Studies in Conservation (52): 125-134.

Watkinson, D. and M. Lewis. 2005. Desiccated storage of Chloride-Contaminated Archaeological Iron Objects. Studies in Conservation (50): 241-252.

Weizhen, O. and X. Chunchun. 2005. Studies on Localized Corrosion and Desalination Treatment of Simulated Cast Iron Artifacts. Studies in Conservation (50): 101-108.

Treatment of archaeological copper alloys

Golfomitsou, S., and J. Merkel. 2007. Understanding the efficiency of combined inhibitors for the treatment of corroded copper artefacts. METAL 07 Proceedings of the Interim Meeting of the ICOM-CC Metal Working Group (5): 38-43.

Leyssens, K., A. Adriaens, C. Degrigny. 2005. Electrochemical monitoring of the storage or stabilization of archaeological copper based artifacts in sodium sesquicarbonate solutions. Proceedings of ICOM-CC 14th Triennial meeting. 301-309.

Merk, L. 1978. A study of reagents used in the stripping of bronzes. Studies in Conservation (23): 15-22.

Scott, D. 1990. Bronze Disease: A Review of Some Chemical Problems and the Role of Relative Humidity. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (29):193-206.

Scott, D. 2002. Copper and Bronze in Art: Corrosion, Colorants, Conservation. Los Angeles, Getty Conservation Institute.

Sharma V.C., U.S. Lal, and M.V. Nair. 1995. Zinc dust treatment-- an effective method for the control of bronze disease on excavated objects. Studies in Conservation (40): 110-119.

Weisser, T. 1987. The Use of Sodium Carbonate as a pretreatment for difficult-to-stabilise bronzes. Recent advances in the conservation and analysis of artifacts. Jubilee conservation conference, London 6-10 July 1987. University of London, Institute of Archaeology, Summer Schools Press. 105-108.

Packing and storage

Braun, T.J. 2007. An alternative technique for applying accession numbers to museum artifacts. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 46(2): 91-104.

Charette, S. and D.K. Kimbrel. 2006. Rehousing ancient glass. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 45(2): 79-87.

UKIC Archaeology Section. 1984. Conservation guidelines no.3, environmental standards for permanent storage of excavated material from archaeological sites. London: UKIC.

Heritage management

Cleere, H., ed. 1989. Archaeological heritage management in the modern world. In One world archaeology, vol.9. London and Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Kerr, J.S. 1987. The Australian ICOMOS charter for the conservation of places of cultural significance (the Burra Charter); guidelines to the Burra Charter: cultural significance; guidelines to the Burra Charter: conservation policy. Sidney: Australia/International Council on Monuments and Sites.

Sebastian, L. and W.D. Lipe, eds. 2009. Archaeological and cultural resource management: visions for the future. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

Toman, Jiri. 2005. The protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. Paris: UNESCO.

Tubb, K.W., ed. 1995. Antiquities: trade or betrayed - legal, ethical and conservation issues. London: Archetype in conjunction with UKIC Archaeology Section.

Wegener, Corine. 2010. The 1954 Hague Convention and preserving cultural Heritage.

Underwater cultural heritage

Pearson, C. 1987. Conservation of marine archaeological objects. London and Boston: Butterworth & Co. Ltd.

Williams, E. and K. Straetkver, eds. 2010. Proceedings of the ICOM-CC Group 11th Annual Conference. Greenville. Available online at:


American Schools of Oriental Research

Antarctic Conservation

Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities in the World's Museums

Colonial Williamsburg

E-Conservation Magazine

Getty Conservation Program

Gordion, Turkey

Illicit Cultural Property

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Dig Diaries

Mariners Museum

Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory

National Trust – Chedworth Roman Villa

Queen Anne’s Revenge

British Museum

University College London

References[edit | edit source]

Use this section for: works cited, bibliography, including websites, external links, etc. Please list references used within the text in alphabetical order, following the JAIC style guide.


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