Artifact Cleaning and Stabilization
All materials to be curated by the Division must be washed or otherwise cleaned, unless cleaning could potentially damage the artifact, remove important residues, or adversely affect subsequent analyses of an item or sample. Be conservative when undertaking any cleaning or conservation treatment, and carefully consider the potential long-term effects of the treatment on the scientific value of an object. General lab methods for cleaning and treating artifacts should be described in the final report. Some suggested sources describing the various methods and materials used to clean and stabilize artifacts and other remains are listed under Resources and Vendors.
Corroded metal, such as iron, artifacts are particularly problematic for long-term curation. Metal artifacts must be as clean as possible and dry, stabilized to some degree, and bagged separately from the remainder of the artifacts. Do not submit any unconserved iron items without contacting the Division of Archaeology before packing. Be particularly selective when preparing heavily corroded nails for curation. These items tend to continue to deteriorate and spall, resulting in bits and pieces that have no future research value.
Shell and bone should be dry brushed rather than washed or wet brushed. Keep in mind this applies to artifacts made from these materials (e.g., buttons, gorgets, handles, and jewelry), as well as unmodified or substantially unaltered (e.g., butchered) remains. Do not use cleaners or consolidants (a resin in liquid solution applied to a soft, friable material or object to strengthen it) on these or other perishable materials, because they have known, long-term detrimental effects. Rely on the recommendations provided by a professional conservator as to how to retrieve these items from their archaeological context as well as to prepare them for long-term curation.
Human remains will be treated with respect and particular care. Cleaning and preservation of human remains should parallel that of non-human remains.
Any reconstruction adhesive must be reversible. Do not use Duco CementTM, white glue, or epoxies to mend or reconstruct artifacts or bone. The use of consolidants should be carefully considered as they usually damage the material on which they are applied and/or are irreversible. Current recommended adhesives are Acryloid (or Paraloid)B-72 and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) (see Resources and Vendors for supplier). Acryloid B-72 penetrates the material better and is harder, stronger, and less flexible than PVA. PVA tends to soften and flow in hot climates but is advantageous when applied to flexible, organic materials. Whichever adhesive is selected, it must be appropriate to the artifact, long-lasting, and reversible.
Bulk Samples and Special Samples
A description of, or references to, the procedures used to collect special samples (e.g., flotation, soil, pollen, and carbon) shall be recorded on the catalog form. A reference may consist of a note on the catalog form indicating pages in the final report to consult or information reported on an attachment to the catalog. Provide the following information about each sample:
1. site number, catalog number, provenience data, sample collection date, collector's name; 2. purpose of sample, weight of sample, collection methods; 3. special cleaning or preliminary processing.
Special samples to be submitted for curation may not exceed 250 grams (10.5 oz.) each without prior approval by the Division of Archaeology.
Conservation Treatment and Conservator Consultation
Perishable or fragile items, such as wood, leather, textiles, bone, and some metals, that need to be stabilized to ensure their integrity and longevity may require treatment by a professional conservator. The Division does not provide conservation services. A list of conservators in the state will be made available upon request.
The depositor will also furnish the following documents as part of the collection: the artifact catalog; the final report; a site form for each site from which a collection was made; all field records (i.e., field notes, maps, profiles, field forms, photograph logs, etc.); supplementary laboratory and analysis data; original color slides or prints (any images the depositor wishes to retain must be copied at his/her expense); original color or black and white negatives and contact sheets; and pertinent raw data stored on magnetic media.
Arrange the associated records in a logical manner (by date or consecutive number) within each category (e.g., field notes; shovel test, unit, or feature forms; and profiles and other maps). All handwritten documents should be legible, and photocopied items must be complete and legible. The depositor is responsible for checking his/her copies for completeness and legibility.
The depositor must submit the following documentation to the Division of Archaeology when the artifacts are deposited:
The box inventory is a list of the site number(s) and corresponding catalog numbers used, which is placed in each box of artifacts submitted to the Division (see Box Inventory Example)