ARCHAEOLOGY AND CONSERVATION: A REVIEW OF CURRENT CONSERVATION PRACTICES RECOMMENDED FOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG SITES

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Conducted as part of the Masters of Cultural Materials Conservation thesis research
Student: Jeffrey Fox (0438 560 553)
Supervisor: Dr Petronella Nel (8344-6049)

Archaeology and conservation of cultural materials seem like they should go hand in hand. With this in mind, it seems plausible that a conservator should be onsite at every (or at the least, most) archaeological digs. This is currently not always the case. Firstly, the current conservation practices of archaeological dig sites needs to be reviewed (both literary and practical) to assess the necessity for conservation treatments and methods on site with the notion of preserving materials in changed conditions before they are taken back to the laboratory. Secondly, research is required regarding the training and supervision of volunteers (which are the backbone of many archaeological digs) to evaluate their knowledge of archaeological and conservation practices and assess this in relation to any damage done to objects before/or as they are being excavated.

This research aims to review conservation practices that are recommended for archaeological dig sites in the literature and compare this against the actual practices being performed in the field. The current review of practices is more than ten years old and needs to be updated. It is hoped that a greater focus on onsite conservation practices will become evident to archaeologists when planning their programs. An awareness of conservation practices onsite can also assist archaeologists with obtaining greater analytical and diagnostic information for excavated finds.

The research also aims to fill the gap surrounding the practices of volunteers on archaeological digs and provide the importance of successful training on the practicalities of material reactions to the process of excavation and environmental changes.

You have been approached as a professional/volunteer either known to the student researcher, or referred by other industry professionals; or as a member of the Australian Institute for Cultural Materials Conservation or Australian Archaeological Association. Your contact details may also have been available on a website.


You are invited to participate in the above research project. Should you accept the invitation to participate in this research, you will be asked to take a survey, which should require about 15 minutes to complete. In some cases, you may be invited to undertake an audio-taped interview with the student researcher. The data you provide will be used to gain an insight into (1) the current practice and knowledge of conservation methods being performed on archaeological dig sites, and/or (2) the practices and knowledge of volunteers on the practicalities of material reactions to the process of archaeological excavation and environmental changes.

The project has received clearance from the HREC (Human Research Ethics Committee).
Participation in this project is entirely voluntary and participants are free to withdraw at any time, and to withdraw any unprocessed information previously supplied. If required, anonymity will be ensured within legal limitations (it is possible for data to be subject to subpoena, freedom of information request or mandated reporting by some professions). Despite this, some participants in these close groups may be identifiable to each other regardless. Should you request it, you may be identified as a participant in the research in any resulting publications. Copies of documents, archival data and other primary information obtained from participants will be kept for a minimum period of five years in a locked office at the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation (CCMC). Access will be restricted to CCMC students and researchers conducting research in this area. The results will form part of a Masters research thesis (which will be accessible upon request and approval from the CCMC), and will be presented at the University at the end of October 2013.

Should you require any further information about the project, or have any concerns, please feel free to contact the investigators listed below. If you have any concerns about the conduct of this research project, you can contact the Executive officer, Human Research Ethics, The University of Melbourne, telephone 8344 2073 or fax 9347 6739.

Student Researcher: Jeffrey Fox (0438 560 553): jafox@student.unimelb.edu.au or foxj1969@hotmail.com

Responsible Researcher: Dr Petronella Nel (03 834

Deadline: 
Thursday, 20 June, 2013 - 23:00