Conservation of Archaeological Resources I
Fall Semester 2016
Instructor: Donny L. Hamilton
Office Hours: 10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon, Tuesday –Thursday or by appointment
Anthropology Building, Room 102B
This course introduces students to the techniques of stabilizing and preserving deteriorated or corroded artifacts from archaeological sites. Proper conservation techniques are introduced in seminar/laboratory sessions designed to familiarize students with the chemicals, equipment, and procedures used in the treatments. Practical experience will be gained in treating organic and siliceous materials, and the various metals commonly found in prehistoric and historic sites. The emphasis will be on the basic conservation processes successfully used on the most commonly encountered artifacts recovered from archaeological sites.
It must be remembered that the Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) is a working laboratory. Therefore, all class and laboratory work is expected to be performed between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Work in CRL outside of class hours is not encouraged! The latest version of the syllabus and various reading for the class will be posted on-line at:
The links to the readings and conservation bibliography will be posted on the web and can be accessed by clicking on the links in the on-line syllabus. The index page for the primary conservation manual) for this class can be found at:
Basic reference book for the class is the CRL – on line conservation book:
Methods of Conserving Archaeological Material from Underwater Sites
by Donny L. Hamilton
From the link above you can download a PDF of the book or you can access the file as needed for reading assignments.
Cronyn, J. M. 1990. The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. London: Routledge.
Is a good reference for additional background and comparative techniques?
Other useful conservation links can be found at: Conservation on Line --
American Institute of Conservation: http://www.conservation-us.org/
Canadian Conservation Institute:
The links to the English Heritage web sites have moved, but the files can be found on the class CD in the Heritage Guide folder.
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (Subject to Change)
Lecture Class - Tuesday; Laboratory - Thursday
WEEK 1: (Aug. 29- Sept. 1) - Introduction to laboratory, Chemical Safety, Laboratory Tour.
MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS (MSDS) FOR MATERIALS AND CHEMICALS USED IN THIS LAB MAY BE ACCESSED AT:HTTP://WWW.ILPI.COM/MSDS/INDEX.CHTML
This is a link to a portal with links to a number of companies with access to MSD sheets.
A direct link to the ohsah site is below.
Prior to Week 2 class read: UNESCO book, Chapter A. Basic equipment and processes by H.W.M. Hodges.
Readings: CRL Manual FILE 1 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File1.htm.
Cronyn, chpt. 1, Introducing Archaeological Conservation; ch. 2, Agents of deterioration and preservation; ch. 3, General Techniques of Conservation; and Conservation
WEEK 2: (Sep. 6-8) - Adhesives & Consolidants.
Readings: Conservation Manual FILE 2 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File2.htm; UNESCO, 1968: Appendix: p. 305-331; Curt Moyer, The Duco Dialogues; Stephen Koob, Using Acryloid B-72 for the Repair of Archaeological Ceramics; SPNHC Leafltets, Vol. 1, No. 2; Adhesives and Consolidants in Geological and Paleontological Conservation: A Wall Chart.
Thurs. - Begin Adhesive-Consolidants lab. Make Paraloid Glue and mix consolidants.
WEEK 3: (Sept. 13-15) - Bone & Ivory
Readings: Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 238-245, pp. 275-284; and Bone Section in Conservation Manual FILE 3 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File3.htm.
WEEK 4: (Sept. 20-22) - Wood
Archaeological Preservation Research Laboratory WEB Pages:
Silicone Oil in Organic Conservation
Index to APRL Reports
Silicone and Polymer Technologies: An Additional
Tool in Conservation
Re-treatment of PEG Treated Waterlogged Wood
Re-Treatment of a PEG Treated Composite Artifact - A Sabot
WEEK 5: (Sept. 27-29) - Wood (cont.)
WEEK 6: (Oct. 4-6) - Leather
Readings: Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 263-274; (P&W, Ch. I, Animal Skins and Skin Products); Omar, McCord & Daniels, The Conservation of bog bodies by freeze drying, in Studies in Conservation, V. 34, No. 3, pp. 101-109;
Leather Section in Conservation Manual
Guidelines for the care of waterlogged archaeological leather
Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) Leather Dressing
Waterlogged Organic Artefacts Guidelines on their Recovery, Analysis and Conservation PDF
WEEK 7: (Oct. 11-13) - Textiles, Rope, & Misc. Organic Material
Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 284-295; and Textile Section in Conservation Manual
Silicone and Polymer Technologies: An Additional Tool in Conservation
Silicone Oil: A New Technique for Preserving Waterlogged Rope
Conservation of 17th Century Canvas Using Silicone Oils
Silicone Bulking of Waterlogged Cork Using PS340, PS341 and PS343 Silicone Oils
Conservation of Waterlogged Corn Cobs Using Silicone Oils
WEEK 8: (Oct. 18-20) - Glass, Pottery & Stone
The Reconstruction of a Greek Vase, in Studies in Conservation, V. 33, No. 4, pp. 165-176
Link to all the APRL reports:
Cronyn chpt. 4;
Conservation of Devitrified Glass with Methylhydrocyclosiloxanes and Silicone Oils
WEEK 9: (Oct. 25-27) - First Exam, Tuesday, October 25; over non-metals conservation
Metal Conservation: Preliminary Steps, and Iron Conservation
Part I: Introduction and Equipment Sections in Conservation Manual.
FILE 9 –Metalconservation, preliminary steps. http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File9.htm
FILE 10a – Iron conservation I. http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File10a.htm
Cronyn ch. 5, pp. 160-20;
Thurs. - Start iron conservation: Mechanical, Chemical Cleaning
WEEK 10: (Nov. 1-3) - Iron, Electrolytic Cleaning
Readings: Iron Section in Conservation Manual
FILE 10b – Iron Conservation II: http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File10special.htm
Archaeological Metal Artifact Reduction/Cleaning by Electrolysis by Hamilton
Tannic Acid by Logan, CCI, 9/5;
An improved tannin-based corrosion inhibitor-coating system for ferrous artifacts by Worth Carlin and Donald H. Keith, IJNA, 25.1:38-45
Conservation of Iron and their Consequences , National Museum of Denmark - http://www.natmus.dk/cons/x/metal/m1.htm
WEEK 11: (Nov. 8-10) - Copper, Bronze, Brass
Readings: Non-Ferrous Metals and Cupreous Metal Sections in Conservation Manual
FILE 11 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File11.htm
FILE 12 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File12.htm
Weisser, pp. 105-108;
A bronze cannon from La Belle, 1686: its construction, conservation and display, by Donald H. Keith and Worth Carlin, IJNA, 26.2: 144-158
Cronyn ch. 5, pp. 213-230
WEEK 12: (Nov. 15-17) - Lead, Tin and Pewter
Readings: Lead, Tin and Lead Alloys Section in Conservation Manual FILE 14 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File14.htm; Cronyn ch. 5, pp. 201-213; Lane 1979; On the treatment of pewter plates from the wreck of La Belle, 1686 by Worth Carlin and Donald H. Keith, IJNA, 26.1: 65-74.
WEEK 13: (Nov. 22-24) - Silver and Gold; Composite Artifacts
Readings: Silver and Gold Sections in Conservation Manual
FILE 13 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File13.htm
FILE 15 http://nautarch.tamu.edu/class/anth605/File15.htm
Cronyn chpt 5, pp. 230-237; MacLeod & North 1979; Scott, 1983;
Wednesday, reading day, no classes
Thursday-Friday, Nov. 24 -25 -- Thanksgiving Holiday
WEEK 14: (Nov. 29- Dec.1) - Modern Metals, Composite Artifacts; Ceramic Restoration Exercise due
Copies of all readings will be on reserve in the Nautical Archaeology Library and CRL.
Finish all projects, leave projects at your desk for grading, clean up laboratory
WEEK 15: (Dec. 6) - Tuesday, redefine day; Students attend their Thursday lab class instead of the Tuesday class.
Lab test over metal conservation. Last lab class day.
Second Laboratory Exam over metals conservation, Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Alternative is the final exam date on Wednesday, December 14, 1-3 PM.
BASIS FOR DETERMINING GRADE IN ANTHROPOLOGY 605
Each student's grade will be based on:
1. Class attendance, participation in class discussions and laboratory activities. Excessive absences (more than two un-excused absences) may result in a lower grade
2. Pop exams over assigned readings (5% of total grade)
(If no pop exams are given, 50% exams, 50% lab reports and ceramic project.)
3. Two lab exams (50% of total grade, 25% each exam). Second exam to be taken on the day and time designated for the final for this time period. Note, keep this in mind, no early exams will be given.
4. Two lab reports (40- 45 % of total grade, 20-22.5% each) and 10% ceramic restoration project
Each report will emphasize the student's own laboratory experiences as well as pertinent observations and comparisons garnered from lectures, published data and assigned readings. Each report should be as succinct as possible. Each report will follow a prescribed format and will have no more than 15 pages of text, not counting figures, tables and samples.
Report I: Conservation of Organic Material (emphasis on wood and leather) - due by Friday, Nov. 4, 5:00PM
Report II: Conservation of Metal, (emphasis on iron, brass, lead), due by Monday Friday, Dec. 9, 5:00 PM
Ceramic Restoration Exercise, to be presented by Tuesday, Dec. 2, in class
NOTE!! - TREATED SAMPLES ARE TO BE INCLUDED WITH EACH REPORT -- NO EXCEPTIONS and NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LATE REPORTS ARE NOT APPRECIATED AND WILL BE
GRADED ACCORDINGLY. NOTE: NO INCOMPLETES (I) WILL BE GIVEN IN THIS COURSE.
FAILURE TO COMPLETE ALL THE COURSE REQUIREMENTS BY THE END OF THE SEMESTER WILL
RESULT, AT THE OPTION OF THE INSTRUCTOR, IN AN "F" OR THE EXISTING
AVERAGE OF THE WORK COMPLETED.
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.
TAMU Plagiarism Policy
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 deemed, 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."
For many years Aggies have followed a Code of Honor, which is stated in this very simple verse:
"An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do."
The Aggie Code of Honor is an effort to unify the aims of all Texas A&M men and women toward a high code of ethics and personal dignity. For most, living under this code will be no problem, as it asks nothing of a person that is beyond reason. It only calls for honesty and integrity, characteristics that Aggies have always exemplified.
The Aggie Code of Honor functions as a symbol to all Aggies, promoting understanding and loyalty to truth and confidence in each other.
Attendance Policy and Grading Scale Examples
“The University views class attendance as the responsibility of an individual student. Attendance is essential to complete the course successfully. University rules related to excused and unexcused absences are located on-line at http://student-rules.tamu.edu/rule07."
Example Grading Scales:
Standard Letter Grading Scale:
A= 90-100 B = 80-89 C = 70-79 D = 60-69 F = <60