The Conservation of Archaeological Iron

April 18 - 21, 2017 and April 24 - 27, 2017 
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA
Instructor: Valentin Boissonnas
Organizer: Emily Williams


Archaeological iron is one of the most problematic materials to come out of the ground as it can develop post-excavation corrosion that can destroy artifacts in a relatively short period of time.

This four-day workshop will focus on the following topics: 
  • pre-industrial iron smelting technology
  • iron transformation
  • formation of iron corrosion products in the soil
  • preservation of the limit of the original surface within corrosion layer
  • post-excavation corrosion phenomena
  • storage and stabilization treatments of archaeological iron
Hands-on experience will be given with mechanical cleaning and x-raying of archaeological iron artifacts from excavations from Colonial Williamsburg.


The fee for this course is $599 for AIC members; $699 for non AIC members. 

This is a four day workshop that will be offered twice in April 2017. Each workshop is limited to 8 participants.

This program is designed for mid-career, practicing conservators. Participants may be selected based on training, experience, balance of institutional and private practice conservators, balance of conservation specialty areas, number of registrants from a single organization, and geography. Preference will be given to AIC Professional Associate and Fellow members. Review will begin January 20th and continue until the workshops are filled. Notifications expected by February 1st. No payment is required to apply. Payment is due only after acceptance to the program.

Application Process

To apply to participate in the workshop, please fill out the Archaeological Iron Workshop Application through our online review site. To initiate the application, you will be asked to enter your email address to see if you already have an account in the system (this should be the case if you are an AIC member). If you have an email address in our system, you will then be asked to enter your password (the same password you use to log in to the AIC website). If you do not have an account in our system, you will be asked to set one up before you begin your application.

The application will require:
  1. Applicant Information (name, contact information, membership status)
  2. A statement addressing the selection criteria (qualification for participation, demonstrated need/relevance to learn workshop content, opportunity to disseminate information gained)
  3. Upload CV/resume (PDF format preferred)
You may save your application and return later to complete it. When you are satisfied with your responses, click on the "Save and submit" button.

​Apply to Participate

Use the link below to access the application form via FAIC's online portal:

About the Workshop

Iron objects not only tell the story of technological advancement of humankind but also provide a window into everyday life of cultures as diverse as Iron Age villages in the Near East, Norse landing sites in the New World, and early Native American settlements. These “bits of iron” can tell us about transportation, housing, agriculture, religion, warfare, diet, and many other aspects of cultures that may have otherwise disappeared. Training conservators how to approach these surprisingly fragile objects will help ensure that these important pieces of evidence will continue to be available for study in the future.

About the Instructor

  • Valentin Boissonnas was trained in conservation of archaeological and ethnographic objects at UCL, London, UK. He is a lecturer in conservation of metal heritage at the Haute Ecole Arc, Neuchâtel, as well as a freelance conservator for archaeological, ethnographic and historic objects in Zurich, Switzerland.

Scholarship Funding

FAIC/NEH Individual Professional Development Scholarships
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, FAIC offers scholarships up to $1,000 to help defray professional development costs for individual members of AIC who are U.S. residents. Proposed projects are limited to expenses related to attending FAIC workshops supported by the NEH. Applications for funding due February 15, 2017.


Donate to FAIC

Without support, the registration fee for this workshop would be $1,000. FAIC relies on your contributions to support these and its many other programs.

Funding for this program comes from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and sponsorship by Airbrasive Jet Technologies LLC. Additional funding comes from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artist Works Endowment for Professional Development, which was created by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is supported by donations from members of the American Institute for Conservation and its friends. Courses are made possible with the assistance of many AIC members, but no AIC membership dues were used to create or present this course.

Contact: Sarah Saetren
FAIC Education Associate
(202) 661-8071

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