Conservation of Archaeological Resources I
Fall Semester 2015

Instructor: Donny L. Hamilton                                       Anthropology Bldg, Rm. 102

Phone 845-6355                                                                   E-mail:

Office Hours: 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM, Monday and Wednesday or by appointment


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 5:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Work in CRL outside of class hours is not encouraged!


Primary textbook: the on-line conservation manual, Methods of Conserving Archaeological Material from Underwater Sites by Donny L. Hamilton, at:


Supplemental textbook: Cronyn, J. M. 1990. The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. London: Routledge.


The latest version of the syllabus and various reading for the class will be posted on-line at: .


Additional Readings, other than those listed above will be assigned on a weekly basis.

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:


Copies of all readings will be on reserve in the Nautical Archaeology Library and CRL.


Other useful conservation links can be found at: Conservation on Line --

American Institute of Conservation:  
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
Periodic Table of Elements 


English Heritage - 

Waterlogged Organic Artefacts: Guidline on Their Recovery, Analysis, and Conservation 

Guidelines on the X-radiography of Archaeological Metalwork

Guidelines on the recording, sampling, conservation and curation of waterlogged wood

Guidelines on how the detailed examination of artefacts from archaeological sites can shed light on their manufacture and use

Conservation Prinicples: Policies and Guidance for the Sustainable Management of the Historic Environment


TENTATIVE SCHEDULE            (Subject to Change)

Lecture Class - TuesdayLaboratory - Thursday


WEEK 1: (Sept 1, 3) - Introduction to laboratory, Chemical Safety, Laboratory Tour.


Note: The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for materials and chemicals used in the lab are kept in room 102A, and can also be accessed at:



Basic equipment and processes by H.W.M. Hodges

Conservation Manual Overview

Dangerous Chemicals

Strength of Solutions

Toxicity of Chemicals


Readings from the CD: 

Cronyn, chpts. 1, 2 and 3

The Archaeological Role of Conservation in Maritime Archaeology by Hamilton and Smith

UNESCO book, Chapter A.


WEEK 2: (Sep. 8, 10) - Adhesives & Consolidants.


Conservation Manual FILE 2 

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. 15, 17) - Bone & Ivory


Bone Section in Conservation Manual

 Reading from CD:

Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 238-245, pp. 275-284

 Report I: Adhesives and Consoldants - due by Friday, October 2, 5:00PM


WEEK 4: (Sept. 22-24) - Wood


 CCI Journal on Wood

Wood Section in Conservation Manual FILE 6 

English Heritage Waterlogged 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


Reading from CD

Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 246-263


WEEK 5: (Sept. 29, Oct. 1) - Wood (cont.)


Watson, 1982, pp. 237-242


WEEK 6:  (Oct. 6, 8) - Leather


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 

Waterlogged Organic Artefacts Guidelines on their Recovery, Analysis and Conservation  (Read leather p. 9 and wood p.12

Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) Leather Dressing


  Reading From CD

Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 263-274;


WEEK 7: (Oct. 13, 15) - Textiles, Rope, & Misc. Organic Material


Textile Section in Conservation Manual FILE 8

Silicone Oil Treatment Procedure

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


Reading from CD: Cronyn ch. 6, pp. 284-295


Report II: Conservation of Organic Material (emphasis on wood and leather) - Due Friday November 6th, 5:00PM


WEEK 8: (Oct. 20, 22) –

Tuesday, 20th, Remove Wood and Leather.

Thursday, Glass, Pottery & Stone


Conservation of Devitrified Glass with Methylhydrocyclosiloxanes and Silicone Oils

The Reconstruction of a Greek Vase, in Studies in Conservation by Barov

Olive & Pearson 1975:63-68 

Mibach 1975

Ceramic and Glass Section in Conservation Manual FILE 4

Glass Section in Conservation Manual FILE 5 

 Read from CD

Cronyn chpt. 4


WEEK 9: (Oct. 27, 29) –

Tuesday, Measure wood and Leather.

Thursday, Pottery Reconstruction, and clean lab in preparation for metal conservation. Complete any pending jobs.


WEEK 10:  (Nov. 3, 5)

First Exam, Tuesday, November 3rd over non-metals conservation

Thurs. - Start iron conservation: Mechanical, Chemical Cleaning  


Metal Conservation: Preliminary Steps in Conservation Manual

Iron Conservation Part I: Introduction and Equipment Sections in Conservation Manual

 Reading from CD:

Cronyn ch. 5, pp. 160-200


Week 11, (November 10, 12)

Iron, Electrolytic Cleaning


Iron Conservation Part II

Archaeological Metal Artifact Reduction/Cleaning by Electrolysis by Hamilton,

Tannic Acid by Logan, Judy

An improved tannin-based corrosion inhibitor-coating system for ferrous artifacts by Worth Carlin and Donald H. Keith IJNA, 25.1:38-45


WEEK 12: (Nov.17, 19) - Copper, Bronze, Brass


Non-Ferrous Metals in Conservation Manual

Cupreous Metals in Conservation Manual

Cronyn ch. 5, pp. 213-230;

Weisser, pp. 105-108;

A bronze cannon from La Belle, 1686: its construction, conservation and display, by Worth Carlin and Donald H. Keith IJNA, 26.2:144-158


WEEK 13: (Nov. 17, 19)- Lead, Tin and Pewter


Lead, Tin and Lead Alloys in Conservation Manual

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.  27) - Silver and Gold; Composite Artifacts


Silver in Conservation Manual

Gold in Conservation Manual

Cronyn chpt 5, pp. 230-237

MacLeod & North 1979 

Scott, 1983;


Thursday-Friday, Nov. 27-28 - Thanksgiving Holiday


 WEEK 14: (Dec 1, 3,) – Continue metals - Modern Metals



WEEK 15: (Dec 8) - Clean Lab Day

Last Day of Class

Finish all projects, leave projects at your desk for grading, clean up laboratory.

Tuesday is a redefined day, students attend their Thursday class on Tuesday the 8th.


Ceramic Restoration Exercise due by the start of class Tuesday, Dec. 8


Report III: Conservation of Metals (emphasis on iron, brass, and lead), due by Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 5:00PM


Second Laboratory Exam over metals conservation, Thursday, Dec. 8. Alternatively, depending on class progress, the final exam date may be shifted to Wednesday, December 16, 1-3 PM, the scheduled time for the final exam for this class. 



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. Weekly one question exam over assigned readings (12.5% of total grade)


3. Two exams (40% of total grade, 20% each exam). The 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. Three lab reports (37.5% of total grade, 12.5% each)


5. Ceramic restoration project (10%)


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: Adhesives and Consolidants - due by Friday, Oct. 2, 5:00PM


Report II: Conservation of Organic Material (emphasis on wood and leather) - due by Friday, Nov. 13, 5:00PM


Report III: Conservation of Metal, (emphasis on iron, brass, lead), due by Tuesday, Dec. 8, 5:00PM


Ceramic Restoration Exercise, to be placed on the table by your assigned seat by Tuesday, Dec. 8, in class


Example Grading Scales:

Standard Letter Grading Scale: 

A= 90-100     B = 80-89      C = 70-79       D = 60-69       F = <60




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 Disability Services, in Cain Hall, Room B118, or call 845-1637.  For additional information visit   



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

Attendance Policy:

“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"