UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

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


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2010 ANAGPIC Presentations

We had another great time at this year’s ANAGPIC conference held at Queen’s University and were able to hear (and participate in) a great program  of presentations given by students from the graduate conservation training programs.

The papers and posters presented this year will be published on the ANAGPIC website, but here is a preview of the UCLA/Getty Program’s papers and posters.

Papers:
Treatment and Technical Study of a Lakota Beaded Hide
Nicole Ledoux

This paper discusses the conservation and technical study of a Lakota (est.) beaded hide object in very poor condition. The piece, whose original function is not known, was reported as collected in the late 19th or early 20th century by John Anderson, a photographer living on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. It was passed down through family lines until it was recently donated to the UCLA/Getty conservation program. At some point in its history, the piece suffered liquid damage that has drastically altered more than half of the hide area, causing darkening, embrittlement, fragmentation, and damage to the associated beadwork, including localized staining resulting in part from bead corrosion. In order to better understand these alterations and their implications for conservation treatment, a technical study has been undertaken that includes both morphological characterization and materials analysis of the hide and tannins. Continued work has included identification of bead composition and characterization of the various alteration products, as well as consultation with tribal and museum experts about original function and appropriate loss compensation. This object provides an interesting case study for investigating the deterioration of semi-tanned hide and the approach taken in treating such significantly altered material.

The Chemical Characterization and Removal of Lac Dye Staining on White-Ground Ceramics
Cindy Lee Scott and Elizabeth Drolet (UCLA/Getty), Rita Blaik, (UCLA Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering)

A late fifth century B.C. white-ground lekythos from the Antikensammlung Museum in Berlin was loaned to the J. Paul Getty Museum (JPGM) in 2006 to be re-restored and studied.  The vessel fragments were poorly assembled with crude shellac in the nineteenth century.  As a part of the conservation efforts at the Getty, the vase was disassembled by fuming in a solvent saturated environment of a 1:1 mixture of ethanol and acetone, which caused a pinkish-purple stain to develop.  Although  numerous materials and techniques were tested, an adequate method for removing the stain has not yet been found.

This paper builds upon the research conducted by conservators and conservation scientists at the JPGM-Department of Antiquities Conservation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and aims to characterize the nature of the chemical bond formed between the lac dye- a constituent of crude shellac- and the substrate of the white-ground.  The methodology is based on experimental and analytical testing on mock-up tiles and has two phases: first to replicate and characterize the staining and second, to perform cleaning trials using a variety of poulticing materials and organic solvents to adequately reduce or remove the staining without altering the white-ground surface. <BR>

Posters:
A Comparison of Block Lifting Materials and Techniques
Lily Doan, Nicole Ledoux, and Robin O’Hern

Technical Study and Conservation of an Apache Coiled Basket
Linda Lin

The Conservation and Reburial of a Greco-Roman Wall Painting: The Site of Karanis, Fayum, Egypt
Suzanne Morris

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Student Class Projects Focus on Technical Examinations of Cultural Materials

In the fall of 2009, the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program offered the course “Introduction to Archaeological Materials Science: Scientific Techniques, Methodologies and Interpretation” (CAEM M210) that focused on basic scientific techniques employed for the examination of archaeological and cultural artifacts to answer questions of anthropological significance and their state of preservation. Among the techniques covered were UV/VIS/NIR spectrophotometry, X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Students were assigned small research projects in which they would apply these techniques, in addition to others discussed in this and other courses, to the investigation of various materials to answer questions about technology and condition.

The four groups of artifacts studied were:

  • samples of a Byzantine wall painting from St. Neophytos, Cyprus
  • samples of fibers associated with a mummy bundle excavated by the Tarapaca Valley Archaeological Project in Chile
  • glazed ceramic sherds from the American Southwest
  • 2 Balinese paintings on canvas belonging to the Fowler Museum at UCLA

At the end of the term, the students presented their poster, which was displayed at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Below are two of the posters produced as the final project for the class.

Make sure to stay tuned to this blog for upcoming posts on the other posters presented, as well as future student projects.

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Investigation of Pigment Alteration in the Wall Paintings at the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos, Paphos, Cyprus
Steven Brightup, Sara Kiani, Nicole Ledoux, James Ma, Saurabh Sharma

Project Summary
A series of 5 blue and 5 red pigment samples from the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos, the place of reclusion, in Paphos, Cyprus were analyzed to determine the pigments identity and possible alteration products. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscopy – Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (VPSEM-EDS), Polarized Light Microscope (PLM), and Binocular (stereo) Microscope (BM) were used to analyze the samples and due to the limitations of the techniques, only inconclusive assignments can be made on the pigments’ identity.

From elemental analysis it is suspected that the blue pigment is lapis lazuli and that there are two different red pigments which are cinnabar HgS and red lead (Pb3O4). However, without phase analysis of these samples, a positive identification cannot be made. Alteration of red to black and dark blue to light blue were observed for the samples analyzed. A possible alteration of Cinnabar is to metacinnabar. Documented alteration products of red lead are to plattnerite [β-PbO2] and anglesite [PbSO4]. Fading of lapis lazuli has been attributed to the breakdown of the Al-O-Si in the literature. However, it was not possible to verify if these are the alteration products with the available tools.



The Identification of Fibers from a Mummy Bundle, Tarapaca Valley, Chile
Tessa de Alarcon, Elizabeth Drolet, Robin O’Hern and Cindy Lee Scott

Abstract
Fiber samples from a formative period mummy bundle from Tarapaca 40 in the Atacama desert of Chile were examined in an attempt to identify
them. Standards of human hair and alpaca were used for comparison. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) spectra were collected on the samples and standards. The morphology of the fibers and standards were examined using polarized light microscopy (PLM), scale casts and cross-sections. The spectra from the FT-IR analysis could not be used to differentiation between human and alpaca hair. Based on morphology, three samples were identified as camelid and two were tentatively identified as human.


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Conservation Program news in the latest issue of Backdirt

The latest issue of Backdirt, the annual magazine of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, highlights some of the projects undertaken in 2009 by students and faculty of the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program.