Methods of Conserving Archaeological Material from Underwater Sites

by Donny L. Hamilton

Revision Number 2
March 1, 2010
Anthropology 605
Conservation of Archaeological Resources I
Nautical Archaeology Program
Department of Anthropology
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77807
Download PDF

The following conservation files were first posted on the World Wide Web during the 1998 spring semester for use by the students enrolled in ANTH 605, Conservation of Cultural Resources, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. These files constitute the laboratory manual that is used in conjunction with the course. The emphasis of the course is on the conservation of material from underwater sites, especially marine sites, but the conservation of material from terrestrial sites is also discussed. While this laboratory manual is posted for use by students enrolled in the ANTH 605 class, others may download and use the manual; proper credit, however, must be given. (See the proper citation at the end of this page.)

This laboratory manual has been compiled from material gathered over the past 20 years. It consists of much of the data presented in a number of publications by the author, as well as class handouts. Particularly important resources include:

1973-1998: Numerous mimeographed class handouts compiled and distributed to the conservation classes taught by the author at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.

1976: Conservation of Metal Objects from Underwater Sites: A Study in Methods. Texas Antiquities Committee Publication No. 1, Austin, Texas.

1996: Basic Methods of Conserving Underwater Archaeological Material Culture. Legacy Resource Management Program, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, D.C.

The last publication is largely a compilation of the first two and is very similar in content to this on-line manual. The current manual does differ from the 1996 publication in that material has been added or updated in some sections. This conservation class manual changes each time it is used, and new changes and additions are being planned as preparations are made to post this version. Each time the manual is posted, it will be dated to reflect new changes, and a new revision number will be assigned. Consult the date and revision number to see if you have the most recent version. Revision 0, dated January 1, 1998, starts the series.

The general reference for the entire conservation manual is as follows:

Donny L. Hamilton
1998. Methods of Conserving Underwater Archaeological Material Culture. Conservation Files: ANTH 605, Conservation of Cultural Resources I. Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University, World Wide Web,

Donny L. Hamilton
Head, Nautical Archaeology Program
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843-4352

Last updated: