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by Archaeology Newsroom

Effective conservation implies interdisciplinary research

The problems of conservation of ancient remains are now much better understood but not necessarily solved. The aim is to preserve the objects in the most permanent way, but at the same time not to alter or lose any of the historical information they convey. Furthermore, the conservator must also bear in mind that the physical and chemical nature of objects should not change because this would jeopardize various analyses and examinations which could be made in the future for provenance or technological investigations. This paper gives a brief account of the most common methods used for conservation today, stating where necessary the evolution in methodology and philosophy and the possible effect the various treatments may have on further analyses. The account by no means comes from expertise in conservation but rather from a layman’s point of view. However, the necessity of approaching the conservation problem in an in terdisciplinary way is projected. The treatments applied to ancient objects must be the result of systematic research by specialists in laboratories equipped with the most sophisticated scientific apparatus. The conservators who have the experience with various materials and weathering products should seek the back up of such laboratories Modern techniques used today to assist and guide the conservator include infrared reflected photography, ultra-violet fluorescence, sodium lamp monochromatic light, x-ray and y-ray radiography, neutron radiography, microphotography. thin section and scanning electron microscope examination, and in addition all sorts of analyses such as. micro-probe analysis, x-ray fluorescence, PIXE (involving accelerated protons), x-ray diffraction etc. The above are briefly described with some examples of application.