Conservation of Organic Materials (A’)

Course Code:

Π1 7030Α


7th Semester

Specialization Category:


Course Hours:




Course Description

Course Theory

The course includes knowledge on the structure and chemical composition of organic materials of animal and plant origin. The theoretical part of the course focuses on the structure and chemical composition of different types of organic materials, and the analysis of the factors and degradation mechanisms of these materials in different burial and museum environments. The course presents the methods used for the systematic and scientific investigation of these materials prior to their conservation. First aid for archaeological finds of organic nature are also taught. The course presents and examines the materials and methods that can be applied at all stages of the conservation process (eg cleaning, consolidation, restoration, gap filling, stabilization), as well as the effectiveness of these materials based on case studies.

Course Practicals

The laboratory part of the course will include the following exercises:

Macroscopic and microscopic features of organic materials;Structure and chemical composition;. Physical and mechanical properties; Identification of various types of organic materials;. Artefact’s technology; Typology of decay; First aid for organic materials, packing and storage methods;.Methods of conservation (cleaning, gap filling, restoration, consolidation, joining, etc.).

The Scope of the Course

The students to understand the following concepts: structure, decay, conservation, promotion, protection and ethical management of archaeological and historical organic materials. Students acquire knowledge to recognize the organic materials of animal and plant origin, and to assess the extent and nature of decay by selecting the most appropriate diagnostic techniques. Students learn how to choose the appropriate methods of conservation, based on the capabilities of each method, and on the objects’ state of preservation in order to preserve the most information t belonging to the archaeological or historical object.

Course objectives

Students have to assimilate and to adapt in conservation of organic materials the basic rules of ethics of the profession of conservator related to: 1st “technical examination, preservation and conservation” of the objects to be conserved and 2nd respect to “the aesthetic, historical, structural, and physical integrity” of the objects under treatment. Through the course, students will acquire skills in instrumentation used for decay diagnosis, documentation of objects and interventions at all stages of conservation.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to:

Study and document archaeological and historical organic materials.

Successfully design and implement conservation and preservation treatment of archaeological and historical organic materials.

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
• Short-answer questions
• Short-term progress tests

LAB PRACTICES (50%): student is assessed for every exercise, individually or in group, by:
• Essay and written exams
• multiple choice exams
• short-term progress tests
• oral tests
Evaluation criteria reflect the achievement of the course outcomes for every student.

Greek :
1. Παναγιάρης Γ.: «Η συμβολή της συντήρησης αρχαιολογικών οργανικών ευρημάτων στην έρευνα: Από την Τεχνική Διάσωσης του αντικειμένου στην επιστήμη ανάδειξης της πληροφορίας του», Αρχαιολογικό συμπόσιο στην μνήμη του Δ.Ρ. Θεοχάρη: «Η Προϊστορική έρευνα στην Ελλάδα και οι Προοπτικές της: Θεωρητικοί και Μεθοδολογικοί Προβληματισμοί», Θεσσαλονίκη – Καστοριά 26, 27 και 28 Νοεμβρίου 1998.
2. ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΡΗΣ, Γ. 1996. Η Συντήρηση των Οργανικών Υλικών ως προϋπόθεση Αρχαιομετρικής Έρευνας. 3ο Συμπόσιο Αρχαιομετρίας Ελληνικής Αρχαιομετρικής Εταιρείας. Αθήνα 6-10 Νοεμ. 1996, Πρακτικά σελ. 485-494.

Foreign :
1. Cronyn, J.M. (1990) Elements of Archaeological Conservation, Taylor & Francis
2. Jensen V., (1987) Conservation of wet organic artefacts excluding wood, In: Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects, ed. C. Pearson, Butterworths, London, 122-163
3. Karsten A., Graham K., Mould Q., Walton Rogers P., (2018) Waterlogged Organic Artefacts Guidelines on their Recovery, Analysis and Conservation, Historic England Guidance
4. Kite M. & R. Thomson, (2005) Conservation of Leather and Related Materials (Conservation and Museology), ed. Butterworth-Heinemann.
5. Mertzani, M., Malea, E., Maniatis, N., and Panagiaris, G. 2008. Towards a binding code of ethics for the conservation and display of human remains. In: ICOM-CC 15th Triennial Conference, New Delhi, India, 22-26 Sep. 2008. pp.364-369
6. Panagiaris, G. 2001. The influence of conservation treatments on physical anthropology research. In: E. Williams, (ed). Human Remains: Conservation, Retrieval and Analysis, 7-11 Nov.
7. 1999, Williamsburg. Oxford: Archaeopress (BAR Series 934), pp. 95-98
8. Pearson C., (1987) Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects, ed. Butterworths
9. Pournou A., (2020) Biodeterioration of Wooden Cultural Heritage Organisms and Decay Mechanisms in Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems, ed. Springer
10. Wevers A J M, (1990) Treatment of waterlogged rope, In: Proceedings of the 4th ICOM Group on Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conference, Bremerhaven, (ed. P. Hoffmann), ICOM, 159-172

Conference proceedings
ICOM -CC Triennial Meetings