Dr. C Wayne Smith

The Archaeological Preservation Research Laboratory (APRL) is a research laboratory within the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, which works closely with the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, the Center for the Study of First Americans and the Department of Anthropology.

Research conducted at APRL has contributed towards the development of new processes for the stabilization and conservation of organic artifacts. In conjunction with Dow Corning Corporation, research at APRL focuses on the development of organo-silicone chemistry and polymers as well as their application in conserving organic archaeological artifacts.

The driving forces of research at APRL are:

  • to contribute new and alternative methods for the conservation of organic material culture.
  • to further develop the science of organo-silicone chemistry within industry, archaeology, and the medical sciences.
  • to conduct interdisciplinary research at TAMU for the enrichment and development of advanced technologies.

Working in close association with the Conservation Research Laboratory and Dow Corning Corporation of Midland, Michigan, research has included the conservation of artifacts from numerous archaeological sites including: 

La Belle Working in conjuction with the Texas Historical Commission, CRL and APRL conservators are conserving artifacts from French explorer Robert de La Salle's ship, La Belle (1686).
Port Royal Artifacts from the 17th-century site of Port Royal, Jamaica, inculding waterlogged wood, glass, leather, canvas, basketry, seeds and bone have been conserved using a range of silicone oils and other polymers.
Tantura Lagoon Several delicate artifacts, including rope and fabric dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods have been brought to CRL and APRL and conserved using new technologies developed at our labs..
Uluburun Small wooden tenons and a large number of small, unstable glass beads dated to 1300 BCE have been conserved at APRL. Polymer processing of glass and faience beads appears to produce better results than traditional methods of conservation.
Red River APRL and CRL are working on conserving artifacts and timbers from the 1838 wreck of the western river steamboat Heroine. Artifacts such as pig bones, wooden barrel pieces, shoes, corncobs and almond shells are conserved using APRL's silicone oil process.

APRL is also partnered with Louisiana State University's Faces Laboratory as well as the Digital Imaging and Visualization in Archaeology (DIVA) Lab.

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