Category Archives: Materials Analysis

“Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?” – Identifying mystery fibers in the field

When conservators are working on archaeological excavations, their work often encompasses many different aspects of field conservation.  This can include materials identification and characterization, lifting fragile artifacts and aiding in archaeological research.  No matter what facet of the project they are involved in, the work can be challenging without the comforts of a well-stocked lab and requires lots of problem solving and improvisation. (continue reading)

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43rd Annual Meeting – Textiles Specialty Group, May 14th, “Lights, Camera, Archaeology: Documenting Archaeological Textile Impressions with Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)” by Emily Frank

Post I wrote for AIC’s blog “Conservators Converse” on a talk given at the 43rd Annual Meeting, 2015, in Miami, FL.

“Documenting textile impressions or pseudomorphs on archaeological objects is very challenging. In my own experience, I’ve found trying to photograph textile pseudomorphs, especially when they are poorly preserved, very difficult and involves taking multiple shots with varying light angles, which still often results in poor quality images. This is why Emily Frank‘s paper was of particular interest to me because it provided an alternative to digital photography that would be feasible and more effective in documenting textile impressions: Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI).” (continue reading)

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How do you mount several tiny samples together?…..Very carefully!

We are all aware of how difficult it is to be able to take a sample from an artifact (both permission-wise and logistically) and when we need to, more often than not, the samples we take are extremely small.  Once we have our precious sample, we try to use as many examination and analytical techniques we can that are non-destructive to get the greatest amount of information from that one sample.  We may reach the point, however, where we need to use an analytical technique that may require the sample to be mounted, cut up or consumed, and we need to find ways to have the samples extend as far as possible through all the stages of investigation. (continue reading)

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A Day in an Archaeological Conservation Program

I’m a Conservation Specialist for the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program, a graduate conservation training program specializing in the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials.  In our 3 year course, we train students in the methods and techniques used for the examination and preservation of objects and have them understand the properties of materials, how they deteriorate and ways to slow down or prevent further deterioration. (continue reading)

 

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Archaeological Conservation in Northern Highland Ecuador

I spent this summer working as a conservator for the Pambamarca Archaeological Project (PAP), located in northern highland Ecuador, near the town of Cangahua.  As the conservator on the project, my job was to examine and conserve the finds excavated to ensure their long term preservation and to aid in archaeological research.  Most of the work taking place here is focusing on sites and fortresses located on various hilltops in the region.  The research hopes to understand the indigenous cultures known as the Cayambes, that lived here before the Inca conquered this area in the 1500’s, and also to look at the interactions between the groups after that conquest. (continue reading)

 

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What’s Simmering in That Beaker? Understanding Ancient Technology by Manufacturing Pigments

Powdered saffron, simmering roots, crushed leaves…no, it’s not what’s cooking in the kitchen, but what’s been cooking at the Getty Villa this quarter for the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. (continue reading)

 

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