June 07, 2008


Live blogging the UCLA/Getty Storage Symposium (part 4)

I had lunch with colleagues at the Student Union: fun. Now we start the 2nd section, introduced by Ellen Pearlstein (UCLA/Getty): "Case Studies of Successful On-Site Storage."

The 1st speaker is Hiroko Kariya (Oriental Institute of the U. of Chicago): Block Yard Storage and Survey of Colonnade Fragments, Luxor Temple[, Egypt]. The Chicago House, the local branch of the Oriental institute, proposed a new facility but this was not approved by the Egyptian authorities. Instead they built small-scale, emergency protection structures of wood and sail to protect the sundry blocks. Exposure to the elements was causing deterioration of the relief and painted decoration of the artifacts. Eventually, a new proposal consisting of stone-built, sturdy shelfs covered by sail was approved. Instead of the 1,000s of blocks originally protected, now 10,000s are safe. A condition database documenting the change through time for individual fragments and blocks has now been set up with lots of detail. Together with a treatment database this allows much improved management of the Block Yard. They also are working on improved access to the material, e.g., by reconstructing some walls and displaying some fragments in situ. The oldest fragments are from the 20th cent. BC but the bulk is dated to the 14th-13th cent. BC (Amenhotep III and Ramses II). The open-air museum will open in 2010.

Amandina Anastassiades represents a team from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens: On-Site Storage of Metal Artifacts at the Athenian Agora. In the reconstructed (in the 1950s) Stoa of Attalos, there was permanent storage space which was however not climate controlled. Metal artifacts esp. were not totally dry and have turned out to show corrosion problems up to the point of totally falling apart. In the 1980s, the most vulnerable metal artifacts were repackaged. Now, they are moving them into appropriate, modern containers. They did on-site tests on the relative humidity and temperature, which was then used as guidance for the new storage: tightly-sealed plastic containers with silica gel that are eventually stored in a metals room under precise environmental control. Long-term storage of uncataloged metal finds is done with Marvelseal 360® and Tyvek® packaging and lining. Key to the improved handling and storing of metal artifacts is collaboration between field archaeologists and conservators. Interesting detail: the excavators perform a triage in that undiagnostic and mundane artifacts (esp. ceramic) are reburied after having been counted.


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