Preservation in situ: the future for archaeological conservators?

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Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Caple, Chris;


Conservation and Access: Contributions to the 2008 IIC Congress, London, p.0-0 (2008)


Archaeological conservators have traditionally worked at the single object level; investigating, cleaning and stabilizing artefacts retrieved from archaeological excavations (remedial or interventive conservation) and at a collection level providing their subsequent care (preventive conservation). However, heritage agencies throughout Europe are increasingly seeking to preserve archaeological sites and their associated artefacts in situ through legal protection and minimizing excavation. The term ‘preservation in situ’ has been questioned by Fjaestad and others, whose work has suggested that the corrosion rates of buried metal artefacts are increasing. Recent research in Durham has calculated an annual loss rate of 19 million metal artefacts per year between 1945 and 1995 from ancient monuments (surface visible archaeological sites) in England. It appears likely that preservation in situ represents a significant area of future activity for archaeological conservation. If so, this will require significant changes in the education and training of archaeological conservation students.