Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Field Stabilization of Movable Heritage

  • Emily Williams
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_474


The conservation of sites and artifacts is an integral and important part of the archaeological process. Conservation has a role to play in the elucidation of the site and of the material recovered from it, and the process often starts with field stabilization and even before that with the planning process.


Field stabilization (also often referred to as “first aid for finds”) aims to prevent objects from deteriorating both chemically and physically by using correct lifting, recovering, packaging, transportation, and storage procedures. Not all objects require intensive conservation treatment in a lab-based setting, but all objects require field stabilization.

Key Issues/Current Debates/Future Directions/Examples

During burial, objects are prone to biological, chemical, and physical decay. They are affected by a number of environmental factors including the presence of water and oxygen, the degree of acidity or alkalinity, the temperature and redox potential...

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  1. Chen, H. L., K. Jakes & D. Foreman. 1998. Preservation of archaeological textiles through fibre mineralization. Journal of Archaeological Science 25: 1015-21.Google Scholar
  2. Karas, B., H. Beaubien & W. Fitzhugh. 2010. Documenting Mongolia’s deer stones: application of 3D laser scanning technology to archaeological conservation, in E. Williams & C. Peachey (ed.) Conservation of archaeological materials: current trends and future directions (BAR International series 2116): 103-12. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  3. Logan, J., R. Barclay, P. Bloskie, C. Newton & L. Selwyn. 2010. Saving the Ferryland cross: 3D scanning replication and anoxic storage, in E. Williams & C. Peachey (ed.) Conservation of archaeological materials: current trends and future directions (BAR International series 2116): 127-34. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
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Further Reading

  1. Brady, C. M. Gleeson, M. Myers, C. Peachey, B. Seifert, H. Wellman, E. Williams & L. Young. 2006. Conservation FAQs and facts. Available at: http://www.sha.org/research/conservation_facts/conservation_facts.cfm. (accessed 1 August 2012).
  2. Cronyn, J. 1990. The elements of archaeological conservation. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Payton, R. (ed) 1992. Retrieval of objects from archaeological sites. London: Archetype Publications, Ltd.Google Scholar
  4. Robinson, W. 1998. First aid for underwater finds. London: Archetype Publications, Ltd., & the Nautical Archaeology Society.Google Scholar
  5. Sease, C. 1994. A conservation manual for the field archaeologist, 3rd edn. (Archaeological Research Tools 4). Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology. Available at: http://www.ioa.ucla.edu/publications/pdfs/Conservation%20Manual.pdf (accessed 1 August 2012).
  6. Watkinson, D. & V. Neal. 1998. First aid for finds. 3rd edn. London: RESCUE/UKIC Archaeology Section.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Colonial Williamsburg FoundationWilliamsburgUSA