Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East, Fri. Nov. 16

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By Suzanne Davis and LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

This year we are pleased to announce a new workshop session for the ASOR Annual Meeting, Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East. Both conservators and archaeologists tend to present research within their own fields, effectively segregating the disciplines. But this year, thanks to ASOR, we have an opportunity to foster collaboration and promote information sharing among conservators and archaeologists working in the Near East. As conservators who work on excavations in the Near East, this topic is important to us and we hope you’ll find it interesting and important, too.

The workshop contributors will present multi-disciplinary projects and research on archaeological heritage from Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. Topics examined will include regional trends in conservation, balancing preservation and access, site management, treatments of challenging materials, and collaborations with local conservation and archaeological communities. Moderated discussions between the presentations will engage the contributors as well as the audience, creating an ongoing dialogue that we hope will ultimately improve preservation for archaeological materials and sites in the Near East. If you have questions, insights, or just an interest in these topics, please join us.

The first two presentations of the session will focus on site work. Hiroko Kariya will discuss the Luxor Temple Fragment Conservation Project, which includes the documentation, treatment, and monitoring of tens of thousands of sandstone fragments.  Kariya’s presentation will address two particularly challenging aspects of the project: the protection of a massive number of semi-portable, inscribed fragments and providing accessibility to the collection on site for a high volume of visitors. In the following presentation, “Getting What You Came For: Conservation and Research at Tel Kedesh, Israel,” Suzanne Davis will demonstrate how on-site conservation activities can successfully contribute to archaeological research. This talk will also introduce the important discussion topic of how to balance the expectations of local conservation and archaeological authorities with the on-the-ground realities and priorities of international project teams.

Case studies presented by Krysia Spirydowicz and Catherine Foster will discuss the challenges of preserving two exceptional and fragile archaeological collections. Spirydowicz will outline the methods used to conserve ornate, wooden furniture from the royal tombs at Gordion. This presentation will highlight the difficulties of preserving ancient wooden objects, while addressing the particular conservation problems posed by the charred and fragmentary Gordion furniture. The focus of Foster’s talk will be the preservation of the Nimrud ivories, which resulted from a joint Iraq-U.S. project undertaken at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil (the Institute). The project initiated a program of conservation and improved display of the famous ivories, as well as provided training to Iraqi conservation professionals. The final presentation by Vicki Cassman will elaborate on the history and goals of the Iraqi Institute. Institute participants receive training by international conservation experts, as part of an effort to build a sustainable conservation community that will serve preservation needs at sites and museums throughout Iraq.

This workshop session will be held at the 2012 Annual Meeting on Friday, Nov. 16th from 4:20 – 6:25 pm.


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