UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

A graduate conservation training program focusing on the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials

UCLA/Getty Program takes on the SAA’s (and Honolulu)

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This spring students, staff and faculty of the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program will be attending the Society for American Archaeology’s Annual Meeting (April 3-7, in Honolulu, HI) and representing the field of archaeological conservation. Faculty member and chair, Dr. Ioanna Kakoulli, and I have co-organized a symposium titled Archaeometric Methods, Archaeological Materials & Ancient Technologies which takes place on Sat. April 6th and is sponsored by the Society for Archaeological Sciences.

The session brings together professionals in the field of archaeology and conservation to present their research on the use of instrumental analysis for the characterization of ancient and historic materials. The aim is to create a discussion of the advantages and limitations of different techniques based both on hardware design and application methodology and the pitfalls in the acquisition and interpretation of results. The papers will touch on the methods of acquiring the data and how the data is treated in light of the complexities posed by the heterogeneous nature of archaeological materials and the alterations that they undergo during burial. There will be a focus on how condition/preservation issues, the heterogeneity of the artifacts and the difficultly of analyzing artifacts that cannot be sampled affect the techniques that can be used, the choice of analytical methodology and the interpretation of results. By addressing these limitations, and especially by having conservators speak on the impact of condition and deterioration on the overall composition and stability of archaeological materials, a new perspective can be added to the discussion of instrumental analysis that would be beneficial to any researcher working on ancient materials.

In addition to the research the presenters will introduce, the session will increase the presence of conservators, conservation scientists and conservation graduate students at this archaeological conference. The hope is it that it will introduce those not familiar with our field to conservation-related research, increasing the awareness of the archaeological community to the work conducted by conservators and their contribution to larger archaeological goals and research questions. This collaboration with and outreach to the archaeological community has been a focus of the UCLA/Getty Program and our hope is that this session will be an extension of that work and help bridge the gap that still exists between these two professions.

Not only are we happy about getting to spend some time in Honolulu, but we are excited to have two of our students presenting their research at the session. We have a few papers that will be given by emerging archaeological conservators giving them an opportunity to present their research at this early stage in their career. They’ll also have the opportunity to connect with archaeologists and other professionals which will help form collaborations in the future. As a result of this session, I hope these emerging conservators will wish to continue this kind of outreach during their conservation careers and work to further integrate conservation into the practice of archaeology.

If you are attending the SAA’s, make sure to come to our session to hear the exciting talks listed below (after the photo). Abstracts for the conference can be accessed here. Hope to see you in Honolulu!

beautiful beach in Hawaii (Not Honolulu or Oahu, but on the Big Island. Just wanted to set the mood)

A beautiful beach in Hawaii. It’s not Honolulu or Oahu, but the Big Island. It’s just in here to add context and because I’m sure Honolulu will be as beautiful.

Vanessa Muros
Conservation Specialist, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

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Archaeometric Methods, Archaeological Materials & Ancient Technologies

Empire Without A Voice: Phoenician Iron Metallurgy and Imperial Strategy at Carthage
Brett Kaufman, PhD candidate, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA

Analyzing deteriorated glass using pXRF: A preliminary study of vitreous beads from the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age tumulus of Lofkënd in Albania
Vanessa Muros, Conservation Specialist, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

Several Roads Lead to Chichén Itzá: Tracing the Fabrication Histories of Metals Deposited in the Cenote Sagrado
Bryan Cockrell, PhD candidate, Anthropology, UC Berkeley
José Luis Ruvalcaba Sil, Research Scientist, Instituto de Física, UNAM
Edith Ortiz Díaz, Researcher in Archaeology, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, UNAM

Improving the Diagnostic Capabilities of GC-C-IRMS Analyses of Organic Residues in Archaeological Pottery
Michael W. Gregg, and Greg F. Slater
School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University

Comparison between 3D Geometric Morphometric Analysis over Traditional Linear Methods in Lithic Assemblages; Tor Faraj, Jordan, a Middle Paleolithic Site as a Case Study
Colleen A Bell, Miriam Belmaker and Donald Henry, Dept. of Anthropology, The University of
Tulsa

Characterization of 5th C. B.C. Athenian Pottery Black Gloss Slips
Marc Walton and Karen Trentelman, Getty Conservation Institute
Jeffrey Maish and David Saunders, J. Paul Getty Museum
Brendan Foran3, Neil Ives3, and Miles Brodie, The Aerospace Corporation
Apurva Mehta, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory

Lipid Analysis and Plant Residue Identification: New Perspectives
Cynthianne Debono Spiteri , Dept. of Archaeology, BioArCh, University of York & Max Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Amanda Henry, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Oliver E. Craig, Dept. of Archaeology, BioArCh, University of York

Integrated Archaeometric Analysis of the Context and Contents of an Ulúa-style Marble Vase from the Palmarejo Valley, Northwest Honduras
E. Christian Wells, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida

The Jaina-style Figurine Project: Portable Technologies, Advantages and Limitations
Christian Fischer, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering and UCLA/Getty Conservation
Program
Carinne Tzadik, MA student, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program
Ioanna Kakoulli, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering and Chair,UCLA/Getty Conservation
Program
Sandra L. Lopez Varela, Dept. of Anthropology, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos
Christian De Brer, Conservator, Fowler Museum at UCLA
Kim Richter, Research Specialist, Getty Research Institute

Sandstone raw materials from Eastern France: Evaluation of Non-Invasive Portable Technologies as Potential Tools for Characterization and Sourcing
Brittany Dolph, MA Student, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program
Christian Fischer, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering and UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

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Analyzing deteriorated glass using pXRF: A preliminary study of vitreous beads from the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age tumulus of Lofkënd in Albania
Vanessa Muros, Conservation Specialist, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

The availability of portable analytical instrumentation, such as portable xray fluorescence spectroscopy (pXRF), has allowed for more archaeometric research to be conducted on archaeological materials in the field, where artifacts can be analyzed in situ. The application of this technique to the study of ancient materials has been advantageous in that many more artifacts can be analyzed non-destructively, without the need for sampling. Issues are often encountered, however, in the characterization of these objects due to their heterogeneity because of the materials used, method of manufacture or the alteration materials undergo during burial.

This paper will describe the characterization of a group of vitreous beads excavated from the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age tumulus (14th-9th c. BC) of Lofkënd in Albania. The beads, which exhibited varying degrees of deterioration and corrosion, were analyzed using pXRF in order to identify the raw materials used. The factors considered in the creation of the analytical methodology will be presented. The challenges encountered in the interpretation of the results, and the importance of understanding the deterioration processes of archaeological materials when studying ancient artifacts will be discussed.

The Jaina-style Figurine Project: Portable Technologies, Advantages and Limitations
Christian Fischer, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering and UCLA/Getty Conservation
Program
Carinne Tzadik, MA student, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program
Ioanna Kakoulli, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering and Chair,UCLA/Getty Conservation
Program
Sandra L. Lopez Varela, Dept. of Anthropology, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos
Christian De Brer, Conservator, Fowler Museum at UCLA
Kim Richter, Research Specialist, Getty Research Institute 

Of all sites in the Mexican state of Campeche on the Yucatán Peninsula’s Gulf coast, the islet of Jaina has been in the spotlight for many years, principally, due to the very fine clay figurines found in great numbers within burial sites. Compared to the archaeological/art historical analysis, the archaeometry of Jaina figurines has been less extensive. The Jaina style figurine project applies a multiscale and multianalytical approach based on noninvasive and non-destructive testing for the chemical fingerprinting of the figurines and to investigate the degree of variability in the chemistry and technology among the figurines relative to the analytical uncertainties. Here we present preliminary data obtained using non-invasive technology based on spectral imaging (SI), Xray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy and ultraviolet, visible, near infrared (UV/Vis/NIR) reflectance spectroscopy for the characterization of the clay body and blue paint decoration. The advantages and limitations of the non-invasive techniques employed will be discussed in the context of material heterogeneity and variability, geometry and stylistic features of the figurines.

Sandstone raw materials from Eastern France: Evaluation of Non-Invasive Portable Technologies as Potential Tools for Characterization and Sourcing
Brittany Dolph, MA Student, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program
Christian Fischer, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering and UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

In the Alsace region of eastern France, sandstone is an important local resource which has been utilized by societies throughout time. Although earliest archaeological evidence of usage dates back to the Neolithic, it is mainly during the Gallo-Roman and Medieval periods that this sandstone was extensively quarried, and nowadays is still commercially exploited for building and conservation purposes. Primarily composed of quartz, feldspars,
and various types and amounts of micas and clay minerals, the sandstone types present variegated colors and belong to different levels of the Buntsandstein, a lithostratigraphic unit of lower Triassic age. This research explores the potential of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and ultraviolet/visible/near infrared (UV/Vis/NIR) spectroscopy for the non-invasive characterization of different Buntsandstein sandstone lithotypes using portable instrumentation. The two complementary non-invasive techniques allow identification of both elemental and mineralogical compositions while providing a useful alternative for the analysis of archaeological artifacts and/or field investigations where sampling is not an option. Furthermore, they can be used to document current condition and possible alteration processes in order to identify decision-making criteria for conservation treatments. Preliminary results obtained on reference samples from modern quarries exploiting the Buntsandtein sandstone will be presented and discussed with particular focus on provenance and sourcing.

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