Conservation of Excavated Materials

Course Code:

Π1 4010


4th Semester

Specialization Category:

Required ( ΜΕ )

Course Hours:




Course Description

Course Theory

The course introduces students to the burial environments (dry, wet, hydrated). It includes the basic structural characteristics, chemical composition, and manufacturing technology of excavated finds (eg, organic materials, ceramic, glass, stone, metal, etc.) as well as explains the deterioration and corrosion mechanisms according to the  burial environment  they were found. As a result, the student will acquire knowledge of the condition excavated finds and the application of diagnostic methods for their identification. Furthermore, the student is taught which materials and methods to apply in first-aid of excavated finds for their preservation until conservation treatment in the laboratory . Another important aspect of the course it to present proper lifting and removal methods of finds from an excavation site.  The course places emphasis  to  the methods used for scientific examination and  sampling of excavated finds after removal from the  site to understand the manufacturing techniques.. Best practice guidelines are taught for the proper storage of such finds before treatment.. Students are trained in ways of documentation of findings, and the recording of such damage and assess the conservation status of findings and other material (condition report). Finally, illustrative case studies are discussed.

 Course Practicals

Methods of examination for identifying the materials constituting the excavated finds. – Introduction to the various burial environments (dry, wet, hydrated). – Measuring and recording environmental data according to the specific excavated site.. – In-situ documentation of excavated finds. – Understanding the condition of the excavated finds. – Methods of sampling and the excavated finds and the surrounding area.. – Materials and methods of fist aid, proper lifting, removal, and storage of excavated finds from sites.


The Scope of the Course and Objectives

The Scope of the Course

The understanding of damage occurring in archaeological finds according to  the burial environment, taking into account the technology and different materials in order to implement first aid for finds and to select the most suitable methods and materials for transport, protection and preservation.

Course objectives

Students should be able to handle objects, apply first aid for finds after their excavation.

Language of evaluation: Greek (English for Erasmus students).
The student’s final grade results from 50% of the grade of the theoretical part and 50% of the grade of laboratory practice.
Students’ evaluation (100%):
THEORY (50%): Written exams:
• Open-ended questions
• Multiple-choice questionnaires
• Open-ended questions of a case study
• Short-answer questions
LAB PRACTICES (50%): 1 individual report and 2 team work essays

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Brown, J.P. 2010. The Field Museum archaeological metals project: Distributed, in situ microenvironments for the preservation of unstable archaeological metals using Escal barrier film. In: The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, pp. 133-146
Cronyn, J.M. 1990. The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. London: Routledge.
English Heritage. 2012. Waterlogged Organic Artefacts Guidelines on their Recovery, Analysis and Conservation
English Heritage. 2013. Guidelines for the Storage and Display of Archaeological Metalwork
Gillis, C and Noscb, L.B. 2007. First Aid for the Excavation of Archaeological Textiles. The Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research, Oxford: Oxbow Bools
Heritage Victoria. 2004. Archaeological Artefacts Management Guidelines: Version 2. Heritage Victoria, Melbourne Australia. Available on line from:
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NPS Museum Handbook, Part I. 2001. Appendix I: Curatorial Care of Archeological Objects
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Odegaard, N., Scott, C., Zimmt, W.S. 2002. Material Characterization Tests for Objects of Art and Archaeology (2nd Edition
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Sease, C. 1992. Conservation Manual for the Field Archaeologist. David Brown Book Co
UKIC. 1990. Archaeological Textiles. Occasional papers number 10. UKIC
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