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Archaeological Conservation

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Archaeological conservation is the profession devoted to the preservation of objects, structures, and sites that constitute the archaeological record.

These materials are primary resources for understanding and interpreting the past. Archaeological remains may come from terrestrial or marine environments and can be made from a wide variety of inorganic and organic materials including metal, stone, ceramic, bone, wood, plant fiber and skin. The moment these materials are uncovered, they are at risk of rapid and irreversible deterioration.

Archaeological conservators work to ensure the long-term preservation of these materials for future study and research. The may work for museums or other cultural institutions, teach in academic programs, work on archaeological or historical sites, or work in private practice.

Beyond the treatment of freshly excavated finds, the field includes:

  • strategies for ongoing collaboration with archaeological colleagues
  • adequate curation methods
  • management of and access to these materials
  • exhibition and display. 

Interested in more? Visit the Archaeological Discussion Group, a working group within AIC’s Objects Specialty Group. The group is open to all AIC members with an interest in archaeological conservation.


Related Resources

Conservation Wiki: Archaeological Conservation

AIC's Conservation-wiki maintains a section on archaeological conservation. The wiki allows for easy and timely collaborative editing and also provides much broader access to resources, ensuring that innovative methods and materials are documented and widely disseminated to the archaeological conservation community. 

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Archaeological Conservation Brochure

A brochure about archaeological conservation for archaeologists. Request printed copies to distribute by emailing publications@conservation-us.org.

Archaeological Fieldwork Checklist

A checklist for archaeological conservators, which provides a useful way to prepare for fieldwork.