Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Dry/Desert Conditions: Preservation and Conservation

  • Claudia Chemello
  • Suzanne Davis
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_493

Introduction

In hot, arid, and semiarid environments, often referred to as dryland environments, the absence of significant water can provide excellent conditions for preservation. However, once artifacts and structures are exposed to new environmental conditions upon excavation, they can rapidly decay if preservation measures are not employed. Archaeological excavation breaks the equilibrium achieved by artifacts during burial, and steps must be taken to stabilize the materials and equilibrate them to the new, post-excavation environment. As a result, it is critical to involve professional conservators from the first stages of planning for excavation and to make sure that preservation concerns are well integrated with archaeological research projects.

The level of preservation will vary depending on the kind of burial environment being excavated, the agents of deterioration prevalent in that environment, and the type of material being excavated. Familiar agents of deterioration such...

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References

  1. Balachandran, S. 2010. The use of cyclododecane in field stabilization and storage of archaeological finds, in E. Williams & C. Peachey (ed.) The conservation of archaeological materials: current trends and future directions (British Archaeological Reports International series 2116): 77-88. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
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Further Reading

  1. Barbour, R.J. 1990. Treatments for waterlogged and dry archaeological wood, in R. Powell & R.J. Barbour (ed.) Archaeological wood: properties, chemistry and preservation (Advances in Chemistry series 225). Washington (DC): American Chemical Society.Google Scholar
  2. Barker, G. 2000. Archaeology of drylands: living on the margins (One World Archaeology 39). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, C., F. Macalister & M. Wright. (ed.) 1995. Conservation in ancient Egyptian collections. London: Archetype Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Cronyn, J.M. 1990. The elements of archaeological conservation. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Rowell, R.M. & R.J. Barbour. (ed.) 1990. Archaeological wood: properties, chemistry and preservation (Advances in Chemistry series 225). Washington (DC): American Chemical Society.Google Scholar
  6. Sease, C. 1987. A conservation manual for the field archaeologist. Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, University of California.Google Scholar
  7. Spirydowicz, K.E., E. Simpson, R.A. Blanchette, A.P. Schniewind, M.K. Toutloff & A. Murray. 2001. Alvar and Butvar: the use of polyvinyl acetal resins for the treatment of the wooden artifacts from Gordion, Turkey. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 40: 43-57.Google Scholar
  8. Watkinson, D. & V. Neal. 1998. First aid for finds. Hertford and London: RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust and the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation Archaeology Section.Google Scholar
  9. Will, B. 2001. Excavating desiccated leather: conservation problems on site and after: 51-62. London: Archetype Publications Ltd.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Kelsey Museum of ArchaeologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA