UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

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


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ANAGPIC 2014, here we come!

We’re getting ready to head out later this week to the annual meeting of the Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation (ANAGPIC) hosted this year by our colleagues at the Art Conservation Dept., Buffalo State College.  We’re really looking forward to the student papers presented on Friday, the professional talks on Saturday focusing on “Extreme Conservation”, and meeting with colleagues and friends.

We’re also hoping the rumors of spring-like weather back east are true, since some of us are so acclimatized to the weather out here, anything below 65 causes hypothermia (Did I mention it’ll be in the 80’s here this week?!)

This year we’re excited to have our program represented again at the conference.  We have two students, and an alum, presenting. Below is a preview of their talk titles and abstracts.

And make sure to stay tuned for posts and pictures on our Twitter feed (@uclagettycons) and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/UCLAGettyProgram) from #anagpic2014!


Analysis and Conservation of a Pair of Cherokee Black-dyed Buckskin Moccasins: Preliminary Results
Alexis North (3rd year student, currently at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)

Chemical Analysis of Archaeological Peruvian Textiles
Betsy Burr (1st year student)

Delaying the Inevitable: An Investigation of Plastic Deterioration in Joseph Beuys Multiples
Nicole Ledoux (alum ’12, currently at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums)




Post by Vanessa Muros, Conservation Specialist, UCLA/Getty Program

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How do you mount several tiny samples together?…..Very carefully!

We are all aware of how difficult it is to be able to take a sample from an artifact (both permission-wise and logistically) and when we need to, more often than not, the samples we take are extremely small.  Once we have our precious sample, we try to use as many examination and analytical techniques we can that are non-destructive to get the greatest amount of information from that one sample.  We may reach the point, however, where we need to use an analytical technique that may require the sample to be mounted, cut up or consumed, and we need to find ways to have the samples extend as far as possible through all the stages of investigation.

In our lab, we’ve been working on several projects (focusing on Egyptian blue pigments, as well as archaeological glass from the Mediterranean and China) that require taking very small samples from archaeological objects. Most of us are at the stage in our research that require the samples to be mounted in epoxy and polished for various types of instrumental analysis.  Because we can only take very small samples (about a few millimeters in size) and we need to use several techniques (SEM-EDS, EPMA, SIMS, Raman), we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to prepare our samples so that they can be used for all the techniques that will be applied.   Since the analytical methods we want to use will all work on polished samples mounted in resin blocks, we decided to try and mount the samples this way. In order to make it easier and faster to analyze several mounted samples, we decided to place several of our samples in the same resin block.  Arranging the samples all in one mount, documenting them in a way so you know which sample is which and embedding and polishing them successfully is challenging enough. When you are mounting 10-16 samples, about a few mm wide, in a 1 inch diameter sample holder, it’s even more difficult!

Before you start, it’s good to have all the supplies you need out  at your work area, along with your samples. Using a binocular microscope is key to mounting such small samples. The materials/supplies we had for mounting our samples were: the sample holder (we embedded our samples in 1 inch diameter disc of epoxy resin and used a Teflon ring -cut from a longer Teflon tube) as our sample holder, tweezers, double-sided tape (at least 1 inch wide) , Mylar (2-3 mil polyester film),  a pen and small, hard portable, surface for mounting (we used a small tile or piece of glass). Steady hands of course are essential.  No sneezing is allowed, and holding your breath for a bit  may also be helpful when dealing with such small samples.  Of course don’t forget to eventually breathe-just not on your samples!.

glass-sample1

Once we had our supplies and samples at the microscope, we did the following:

  1. We took our hard portable surface (in this case a small tile) and attached a piece of Mylar to the top of the tile using double sided tape.  The Mylar will act as a barrier and prevent the epoxy we use for mounting from adhering to the tile (if not it will be impossible to remove the mounted samples from the surface of the tile).
  2. In the center of the Mylar covered tile, we placed 2 pieces of double sided tape, making sure the taped area was larger than 1 inch in diameter.  The tape will be used to hold the samples (and then the Teflon ring) in place during mounting.
  3. We took the Teflon ring and placed it over the two pieces of tape and drew a line to mark the interior diameter.  This would help guide us in placing our samples on the tape, making sure they are positioned in the center of the ring.

 

Now it’s time to take your samples and place them on the double sided tape.  Since we’re going to mount several samples, we placed our in rows, and tried to position them so they would fall within the center of the Teflon ring when mounted.  We marked the top of the Mylar to indicate orientation.  We also took notes and made a drawing to map where we were positioning the samples. Because some of the analysis we will be conducting will require quantitative analysis and the use of standards, we mounted small samples taken from a set of Corning Museum glass standards (A-D) we had in the lab along side our archaeological samples.

glass-sample2

Once we placed all our samples on the tape, we positioned the Teflon ring around them, on the guide lines we drew earlier.  Because the ring is made of Teflon, we don’t need to add any release agent because theepoxy resin won’t stick to it.

glass-sample-ring

Now we’re ready to mix up and pour in the epoxy resin to embed the samples.  We use Struer’s Epofix epoxy resin for mounting.

Even though the Teflon ring is well adhered to the double sided tape, there is the possibility that some of the resin might leak out from the bottom edge of the ring.  One way to avoid this is to seal the bottom edge of the Teflon ring.

A couple things we’ve tried are:

  • putting tape along the bottom exterior edge of the Teflon ring  (in the image above we used blue masking tape)
  • putting plasticine or modeling clay along the bottom edge
  • or sealing the exterior bottom edge with latex (This is the one that worked best for me.  I brushed Latex #74 molding compound from Douglas and Sturgess around the bottom edge.  Once the latex was set, I mixed together the epoxy resin and poured it into the ring and….no leaks!)

When embedding our samples in resin, we like to put them in a vacuum chamber after pouring in the epoxy to remove any air from the resin and the pores of our samples.  This will ensure the samples are completely impregnated with epoxy.  This is particularly important with porous samples, such as some of the very weathered glass samples I was going to analyze.

 glass-sample-vacuum   glass-sample-vacuum2

After the epoxy cures, the pressure is released from the vacuum and the tile/ring/mounted samples removed.

glass-sample-mounted2

The Teflon ring can now be lifted off the Mylar and the mounted samples removed from the ring.  The final step is to polish the samples.We start off with very fine grit sand paper (ranging from 600-1200 grit) and finish with Buehler MetaDi Diamond polishing suspension, first with 6 micron suspension followed by polishing with the 1 micron suspension as the final step. We want to make sure that the samples are exposed and that there are no scratches on the surface.

glass-sample-polishing

Once the mounted samples are polished, they are ready to be analyzed.

glass-sample-polished lofkend-samples

Having to mount numerous small samples together is tricky, but having all these samples in the same mount, plus the standards, will certainly save time during analysis!

Vanessa Muros (Conservation Specialist)


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UCLA/Getty Program Welcomes Visiting Scholar Dr. Xiaoqi Wang

The UCLA/Getty Program is pleased to welcome visiting scholar Dr. Xiaoqi Wang for the 2013-14 academic year. Dr. Wang received her Ph.D. at the University of Science and Technology of China in conservation science and archaeometry (2005). Her dissertation research focused on the conservation of ancient shipwrecks and waterlogged materials with work undertaken in the conservation lab of the Romano-Germanic Central Museum, Mainz, Germany. Xiaoqi was a postdoctoral fellow (2006-2012) at Nanjing University in geophysics performing archaeometric research on Chinese archaeological glass beads and pigments dating between 220B.C.-600A.D. She serves as the Research Fellow in Department of Archaeology at Nanjing University, where she has also been teaching archaeology undergraduate and graduate students about archaeometry and conservation science since 2005. She was a visiting scholar at the University of Vienna, Austria (2001) and the Romano-Germanic Central Museum (2004-2005), made possible with funding from the University of Vienna and Romano-Germanic Central Museum respectively

During her time here, Dr. Wang will be working with UCLA/Getty Program chair Dr. Ioanna Kakoulli, as well as other colleagues in the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. She will continue her research on beads and pigments focusing on the use of LA-ICP-MS, lead isotopic analysis and microscopy for their analysis. She is also focusing on ancient Chinese scroll paintings and hopes to connect with conservators, scientists and scholars on the identification of deterioration issues and solutions for preserving the paintings.

Xiaoqi-Wang


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And so they begin…Welcome to the class of 2016!

It’s Week 2 of the fall quarter and members of this year’s incoming class are excited to begin their work in the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program. They’ve dived right into this quarter’s classes which cover the technology and deterioration of ceramics and glass, principles and ethics in conservation, documentation and imaging techniques and science fundamentals in conservation. They will also have the opportunity to undertake two object based projects as part of their coursework: the examination and documentation of painted plaster and ceramic Oaxacan figurines from the Fowler Museum at UCLA and the documentation and condition assessment of ceramic vessels and figurines from the Southwest Museum-Autry National Center.  They certainly have a busy quarter ahead (and a busy next 2 years). We wish them luck with their coursework and lots of success in the conservation program!

The class of 2016. From L to R: Colette Khanaferov, William Shelley, Tom McClintock, Heather White, Betsy Burr, Lesley Day

The class of 2016. From L to R: Colette Khanaferov, William Shelley, Tom McClintock, Heather White, Betsy Burr, and Lesley Day


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Class of 2014’s Summer/3rd Year Placements

It’s finals week and the students are getting ready to head off (or some have already left) for their summer internships and 3rd year placements.  Here’s a list of all the exciting places they’ll be working at:

We wish them lots of success during their internship year and will see everyone again in Spring 2014!


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

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.