Anth 606

Conservation of Cultural Resources II

Spring, 2019



Conservation of Cultural Resources II is the second of three conservation class in the Nautical Archaeology Program. This class is designed as a hands-on class where you get experience working with actual artifacts from archaeological sites. Each student will work individually on a number of projects in the lab. It is not designed to be problem type course (685) or theoretical course where you conduct independent research. In order to provide you with practical, hands-on experience you will be required to conserve a variety of material from archaeological sites, as well as a number of assigned projects. There are a few artifacts from actual archaeological sites to be conserved. In this class you are able to put into practice the skills and techniques that you were exposed to in Anth 605 and develop a more in depth understanding of the procedures involved. In addition you will be taught some new conservation skills that were not covered in Anth 605, such as radiography and casting techniques. You will be expected to be imaginative and to “think on your feet” as you devise treatment processes for the different artifacts. You are expected to conduct research on the alternative procedures for treating your artifacts. Each artifact is analogous to a seminar report and you are expected to have a thorough understanding of the conservation processes and know the rationale for whatever conservation process selected. to treat each artifact.


Readings can be found here:



Class Grade: Each student will be graded on:

1.         The assigned casting and other lab projects

2.         A final laboratory report that presents the results of your artifact conservation projects. The report will have a separate folder for each artifact conserved

4.         A final examination, specifically designed for you, based on your specific projects and reports. The examination will be based on questions that arise after reading your final laboratory reports.

Laboratory reports with conserved artifacts.                                                       50%

Casting Projects                                                                                                 20%

Final Examination- Individualized for each person based on final lab report.        30%

All laboratory reports are due by the last official day of class - May 4, 2010.

Final Exam: As scheduled by the student or at designated final exam time

on May 12, 2010, 1-3 PM

Please note. You are working with numbered artifacts from an archaeological site. At all times you will keep the number with the artifact. WARNING !!! DON'T EVER LET ANY ARTIFACT OR ENCRUSTATION BE SEPARATED FROM ITS NUMBER. Every conservation card, x-ray, drawing, notes, and digital images have to have the number recorded on it. You will be responsible for the complete documentation, drawing, photographing, x-raying and researching of each artifact you process. Every record card, drawing, digital photograph file, photographs, and x-rays have to have the artifact number written on it. The majority of the photographic recording will be done with digital cameras. You will be responsible for finding all the pertinent records that might be on files.

On each project you start, you are REQUIRED to fill out a Conservation Plan card (Copy attached and one is posted on the class web site). On this card, all the pertinent data is to be recorded such as artifact number, photographic film roll and frame, x-ray exposure, over-all assessment and evaluation. On this card you will state the problem, and present a conservation plan, based on your own research of the conservation literature addressing the problem at hand. After this is done, and only after this is done, you will give me the card with all the pertinent information, including, the artifact to be conserved, the field notes, the x-rays, and any photographic prints (if they have been printed), or printouts of the digital images. I will then sign off on the conservation treatment, or alter it in consultation with you. Only then will I sign the Conservation Plan card. NOTE!!! a Conservation Plan Card without my signature is not worth the paper it is printed on.

On each project you will be expected to do it as well or better than I would do it. Sloppiness will be not be tolerated. This year I will be expecting each student to strive for excellence. The final lab report will be a compendium of your projects and will be presented as a portfolio e.g. the folder will demonstrate a series of artifacts being taken completely through the conservation processes with appropriate drawings, photographs of relevant stages of conservation, preliminary analysis, proposal for conservation, actual conservation, final documentation, identification, and parallels. Every project will be put on separate sheets of paper in individual folders so that each artifact section can be extracted and inserted in the files. Do not write on the backs of the sheets. Include the treated artifacts, all documentation, molds, and casts.


Required Projects


1.         Each student will start by selecting an encrustations to x-ray and then cast, if it happens to have a mold of an artifact -- and most should. You will pull from the records all the data pertaining to each encrustation. A part of your term paper will be based on these encrustations. If you are able, more encrustations may be selected. You should try to get a range of materials and/or different conservation problems requiring alternative conservation procedures. There is no reason for you ever to not have anything to do. Some students may do 10 or more encrustations, others may do only one complicated encrustation in addition to the ones requiring casting. One or more of the encrustations must contain a mold of an object that has to be cast. Students will not be allowed to take on a project that can not be completed within the semester or is beyond their capability. All projects are to be completed before the end of the semester..


2.        Each encrustation is to be photographed, with a scale and the artifact number placed below the encrustation (so it can be cropped if necessary). A print is to be made of the encrustation. (Several may be grouped together) Properly catalogued negatives and prints will be turned in as part of the lab project and where appropriate , included with your term paper. All digital photographs are are to have the artifact number as part of the file name and all the photographs of each student are to placed in individual folders on the graphics computer in the photographic studio. Any printed photograph is to have the artifact number recorded on it.


3.        Each encrustation is to be x-rayed. Regardless, each student is required to use the x-ray machine and present as a part of the lab project their x-rays. These will also be included with your paper. Each x-ray must be properly exposed and interpreted. You will be required to make an x-ray with x-ray film and with photographic paper. All radiographs are to have the artifact number prominently displayed. All radiography is to be coordinated with DLH. On medium to large artifacts, it may not be possible to x-ray them. I will tell you when I think that it would be fruitless.


4.         After gathering all the data, prints, and radiographs, each artifact will be evaluated and your will formally write out the conservation procedure you plan to accord each encrustation. Once you have outlined your planned procedure, then come to me to go over it. It is necessary to get my OK and my signature on the Conservation Plan Card. Be sure you have done your background research and be aware of what has been done with this material and what is feasible. After getting signed off, you may proceed on the proposed treatment. You are encouraged to be imaginative, and where possible devise some sort of comparative or evaluation procedure. Consult the conservation bibliographies and references so you know what you are talking about and what you are proposing to do.


Again, it is expected that you have reviewed all the conservation alternatives that could be used on each material, before you present to me the conservation procedures on the Conservation Plan Card. This requires you to be familiar with the conservation literature or that you review it in order to submit the plan.


5.        You will be required to make a latex or silicone rubber peel of an appropriate object. The latex peel and a plaster cast of the peel will be turned in as a lab project.


6.        You will be required to make a one piece, 3-dimensional latex mold of an object and make a cast in plaster.


7.        You will be required to make a two piece mold of an appropriate object, and make a cast of it. The mold and the cast are to presented as a lab project. Maximum of two attempts.


8.        You will be required to make an epoxy mold of a natural mold in an encrustation. The x-ray of the encrustation and the cast of the mold is to be turned in as a lab project. If appropriate, the cast, its scaled drawing, and possibly photograph will be included in your lab report.


9.        You will be required to make a metal cast of an appropriate object by the lost wax process. For this exercise, you are required to make a mold using Ferris Mold Frames and See-Through Mold Compound. You are limited in the size of the object to be replicated by the size of the mold frames. The mold for the wax casting and a good metal cast is to be turned in as a lab report. NOTE! you do not have unlimited chances to repeat the entire process. More than two attempts requires my permission. The lab is not a factory for the small scale production of metal casts. Obviously some students have abused this in the past. The entire process is fairly expensive, and very, very, time consuming. You can come up with an appropriate small object to cast or different artifacts from some source.


10.      Every student will be required to process at least one metal artifact by electrolytic reduction. During electrolysis, each student will perform chloride titration tests and graph the results. Each student will be required to perform electromotive potentials on an artifact -- if I get the equipment operative -- possibly theirs, possibly a class object, during electrolysis. The results will be graphed. The chloride and electromotive potential measurements will be presented as a lab project, and where appropriate turned in with your term paper. This should be started as early as possible.


11.     Either wood and/or rope samples will be processed with a silicone oil process. Any other projects that either you or I think of between now and the end of the semester.

I am much more interested in quality conservation and analysis of a few artifacts than I am in the quantity of conserved artifacts.


Summary: – ALL of these are required.

            1.        A good (or useable ) x-ray of each encrustation and the evaluation of the radiograph.

            2.       Cast from a natural mold in an encrustation.

            3.       Latex peels and casts.

            4.       Single, solid latex mold of an object and cast.

            5.       Two piece mold of an object and cast.

            6.       Metal cast of an object using lost wax process. Done only with assistance of DLH or other designated lab staff.

            7.        Papper on artifacts and casts.

Lectures/class demonstrations:

            1.    Radiography – first week.

            2.    Casting, mold making, lost wax casting.

            3.    D.C. power supplies, how they work and how to build one from scratch.

            4.    Electromotive measurements -- possibly

            5.    Silicone Oil Treatments

            6.    Individual help at all stages.

In my absence, Dr. Wayne Smith may take over my class.

All of this will be staggered through the semester. It is important that every one not work on the same projects at the same time. Each must work individually in order to make maximum use of the limited facilities in the laboratory. Each student is to keep his work are orderly and clean up all messes, and wash or clean all equipment used in the lab.

Exact projects and course requirements subject to minor changes and readjustments as the semester gets underway.



The handouts used in this course are copyrighted. By “handouts,” I mean all materials generated for this class, which include but are not limited to syllabi, quizzes, exams, lab problems, in class materials, review sheets, and additional problem sets. Because these materials are copyrighted, you do not have the right to copy the handouts, unless I expressly grant permission.

As commonly defined, plagiarism consists of passing off as one’s own the ideas, words, writings, etc., which belong to another. In accordance with this definition, you are committing plagiarism if you copy the work of another person and turn it in as your own, even if you should have the permission of that person. Plagiarism is one of the worst academic sins, for the plagiarist destroys the trust among colleagues without which research cannot be safely communicated.

If you have any questions regarding plagiarism, please consult the latest issue of the Texas A&M University Student Rules, under the section “Scholastic Dishonesty.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Office of Support Services for Students with Disabilities in Room 126 of the Student Services Building. The phone number is 845-1637.

CONSERVATION PLAN                                                               Anth 606, Spring 2010

Artifact No.________________                                                   Project__________________

Student___________________________________________    Date:___________________

Photographic Record:

Digital               File name_________________________________________________________

Color:               Roll_______________________       Frame____________________________

B/W                 Roll_______________________       Frame_____________________________

X-ray:             Film__________        Paper___________

Exposure:       __________________________________________________________________

Evaluation: _____________________________________________________________




Conservation/Treatment Plan:

State the problem. State your intent, cite references where necessary to support your case.

What are the alternatives?















_________________________________________________(Add additional sheets if necessary)

Attachments: List



                                                                                                                      D.L. Hamilton