ARCH08033 2019 Deterioration and Conservation of Archaeology Materials

General Details

Full Title
Deterioration and Conservation of Archaeology Materials
Transcript Title
Deterioration and Conservation
N/A %
Subject Area
ARCH - Archaeology
ESCI - Environmental Science
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Karina Morton, Shirley Markley
Programme Membership
SG_SAPPL_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Archaeology SG_SAPPL_K08 201900 Level 8 Honours Degree Add-on in Applied Archaeology

This module introduces ways in which above and below ground deterioration of archaeological materials can occur and focuses in particular on the remedial measures that can be taken by archaeologists to ensure long-term survival of archaeological assemblages. Aspects of museum environment as well as packaging and storage of archaeological and museum collections are examined. The basic approaches, principals, procedures and treatment methods of archaeological conservation are also addressed.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Describe all aspects of the crucial relationship that ideally exists between the archaeological director and the designated conservator throughout all stages of a project from pre-excavation planning to curation.


To understand and explain the contribution that conservation makes to the discipline of Archaeology and to demonstrate an ability to organize and integrate theoretical and practical conservation concepts in an overall approach to archaeological programmes. 


Effectively communicate to their peers - archaeological objectives in seeking the conservation of specific artefactual assemblages and identify any constraints or limitations these may have on conservation treatments.


Describe cases studies in the application of analytical and investigative methods in archaeological conservation projects.


Effect remedial first-aid for finds' measures on-site, making correct provision for the labeling, packaging and storage of archaeological artefacts and demonstrating an ability to apply standard lifting methods to fragile or complex deposits


Display knowledge of the range of treatments and approaches normally adopted in the conservation of archaeological objects and demonstrate an ability to read and interpret Conservation Reports.


Demonstrate an understanding of the various aspects of Museum Environment which need to be monitored and show how these factors should be controlled to ensure long-term survival of mixed materials or archaeological collections.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered full time. The module will comprise lectures and practicals. This approach is expected to address student learning needs.

Module Assessment Strategies

The student will develop, through the essay, research skills including collating, presenting and writing relevant information, clearly and coherently to an academic/public audience. The field trip will allow the student to observe, analyse and understand laboratory conservation strategies and applications within museum settings in respect of archaeological materials. The exam will assess the student's overall learnt understanding of the module.

Repeat Assessments

Repeat exam and/or continuous assessment.

Indicative Syllabus

Theory and Practical conservation work shops in correct labelling and packaging of artefacts for storage on site, during transportation and during post-excavation analysis.

Remedial conservation measures for the archaeologist including on-site techniques for fragile or complex archaeological objects/deposits - taught via laboratory based mock-ups.

Factors affecting the deterioration of archaeological artefacts before and during deposition and post-excavation. Agents of decay - physical, chemical, photochemical, mechanical and biological.

Case studies in the application of Analytical and Investigative techniques to Conservation treatments.

Applications and case studies in conservation of a diverse range of organic, inorganic and metallic archaeological artefacts.

Management of Archaeological Projects with provision for conservation - in terms of personnel, budgetary requirements; suitable consumable materials for on-site packaging of artefacts; publication deadlines; National Monuments Acts; Excavation License, designated conservation consultant; License to altar; etc

Principals of Archaeological and Conservation records - and their application - what the conservator needs to know from the archaeologist and what the archaeologist needs to know from the conservator.

Principals of conservation  - as an information gathering process; aims and objectives; selection of artefacts for conservation; levels of conservation; phasing of conservation; ethics in conservation; the cost of conservation.

Requirements of conservation materials: - as consolidants, fixatives; adhesives; ion-exchange resins; chelating agents; surfactants and solvents etc.

Preparation of the archaeological assemblage for deposition with the National Museum of Ireland.

Criteria for the correct museum environment for long-term storage and display of archaeological objects.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Practical Evaluation Students demonstrate practical application of theoretical concepts addressed via lectures Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 20 % OnGoing 2,5,6
2 Continuous Assessment theory Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 20 % OnGoing 1,2,4,5,7
3 Continuous Assessment essay Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 30 % OnGoing 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
4 Continuous Assessment class test Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 30 % OnGoing 1,2,4,5,6,7

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Science Laboratory Lecture 2 Weekly 2.00
Laboratory Practical Science Laboratory Practical 2 Weekly 2.00
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Self Study 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 4.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

1. Burgess, D. 1990. Chemical Science and Conservation, Macmillan.

2. Cronyn, J.M. 1990. The Elements of Archaeological Conservation, Routledge.

3. Irish Professional Conservators' and Restorers' Association 1998. Conservation Guidelines for Archaeologists.

4. Keene, S. (Ed.) 1980. Conservation, Archaeology and Museums, UKIC, Occasional papers No.1.

5. Horie, C. V. 1987. Materials for Conservation, Butterworth.

Journal Resources


URL Resources


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Additional Information