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Archaeological Conservation Using Polymers : Practical Applications for Organic Artifact Stabilization - C. Wayne Smith

Archaeological Conservation Using Polymers

Practical Applications for Organic Artifact Stabilization

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Over the years, archaeologists have developed a number of techniques for conserving historical artifacts for future generations. Along with these techniques, researchers have developed a series of ethical principles for treating materials in a way that allows them to be not only observed and analyzed for the present, but also in re-studied in the future. Conservation techniques used up to now, however, have provided artifacts only a limited lifespan, and in some cases they do not work well with water-logged materials. Within the past few years, archaeological chemistry and concerns of longevity testing have become central issues in the development of conservation treatment strategies. This problem became particularly acute when members of the Texas A&M Nautical Archaeology Program were called on to conserve artifacts from La Belle, the sunken ship of La Salle excavated in the 1990s off the coast of Texas by the Texas Historical Commission. "Entombed in the mud that sealed it from decay for over three centuries," C. Wayne Smith writes in his introduction, "the waterlogged hull and hundreds of thousands of fragile artifacts, including brain matter in the skull of one unfortunate sailor, would have been a futile conservation effort without new preservation technologies."Working with Dow Corning Corporation, Texas A&M???s Archaeological Preservation Research Lab (APRL), and the Conservation Research Lab (CRL), Smith and his colleagues in A&M???s Nautical Archaeology Program set out to develop a series of chemistries and techniques that would provide successful and affordable treatment strategies for organic materials. In this ground-breaking description of the processes and materials that were developed, Smith explains these techniques in ways that will allow museums and historical societies to conserve more stable artifacts for traveling exhibits and interactive displays and will allow researchers to conserve new discoveries without sacrificing important information. Beyond the advantages offered by polymer replacement (Passivation Polymer) technologies, Smith considers a concept seldom addressed in conservation: artistry. Variance in equipment, relative humidity, laboratory layout, intended results, and level of expertise all affect researchers??? ability to obtain consistent and aesthetically correct samples and require a willingness to explore treatment parameters and combinations of polymers. Smith prescribes an effective layout for day-to-day conservation of small organic artifacts and then examines some of the mechanical techniques used to process various organic materials from marine and land sites. He concludes with an exploration of new tools and technologies that can help conservators devise more effective conservation strategies, including CT scans and Computer Aided Design images and stereolithography. All archaeologists, conservators, and museologists working with perishable artifacts will benefit from the careful explication of these new processes, and those wishing to incorporate some or all of them will find the step-by-step instructions for doing so.

Foreword / J.M. Klosowski -- Laboratory setup. Major instrumentation -- Small necessities in the laboratory -- Chemicals -- Baseline mechanisms. Dowel experiment -- Mass spectrographic analysis of out-gases created from the dehydration of archaeological wood samples -- Archaeological wood. The challenge of conserving waterlogged wood -- Degradation and shrinkage -- Waterlogged wood from saltwater environments -- Case study: Waterlogged wooden buttons with and without associated thread -- Dry-site artifacts : dry and desiccated wood -- Reprocessing and stabilization of PEG-treated wood -- Tongue depressor experiment -- Case study: Re-treatment of two PEG-treated sabots -- Re-treatment of PEG-treated waterlogged wood -- Case study: Treatment of waterlogged wood using hydrolyzable, multifunctional alkoxysilane polymers -- Leather preservation. Archaeological leather -- Cleaning -- Chemical cleaning -- Treatment of leather -- PEG/air-drying treatments -- Freeze-drying PEG-treated artifacts -- PEG and other polymers -- Passivation polymer processes -- Case study: A successful treatment strategy for a waterlogged shoe -- Passivation polymer treatment for dessicated leather -- An effective treatment for dry leather -- Suggestions for treating leather between sheets of glass -- Storage and display of leather artifacts -- Composite artifacts. Case study: Preservation of a composite artifact containing basketry and iron shot -- Cordage and textiles. New techniques for the preservation of waterlogged rope -- Silicone treatment strategies -- Frankfurter method of rope preservation -- Treating waterlogged rope in a nonpolar suspension medium -- Incorporating the use of nonpolar suspension mediums and elements of the Frankfurter method into "traditional" silicone treatment strategies -- Case study: La belle rope -- Case study: Preservation of waterlogged canvas from Port Royal -- Glass conservation. Devitrification -- Removal of sulfide stains from lead crystal -- Consolidating waterlogged glass using passivation polymers -- An effective silicone oil treatment strategy -- Reconstruction -- Case study: Preservation of seventeenth-century glass using polymers -- Case study: Preserving waterlogged glass and cork -- Ivory and bone. Basic structural differences -- Equipment setup for very fragile bone and ivory -- Case study: Consolidating friable bone -- Case study: Ivory from Tantura-B excavations in Israel -- Case study: Waterlogged tusks from western Australia -- Expanding the conservation tool kit. Computerized tomography and the stereolithographic process -- Case study: Scanning an encrusted artifact : CT scanning used as a diagnostic tool -- New tools : new directions in research.

ISBN: 9781603447003
ISBN-10: 1603447008
Format: PDF
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 8th January 2003
Publisher: Texas A & M University Press
Edition Number: 1