JAIC 1987, Volume 26, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 85 to 104)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1987, Volume 26, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 85 to 104)

AN OUTLINE HISTORY OF CONSERVATION IN ARCHAEOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY AS PRESENTED THROUGH ITS PUBLICATIONS

Niccolo Leo Caldararo



NOTES

1. Brommelle (1956) describes a similar reaction to the early attempts at cleaning paintings in the National Gallery in England that led to the Select Committee Reports of 1850 and 1853.

2. Klaproth's paper was actually read publicly in 1795 but not published until two years later. Most authors, however, give Klaproth credit for the first publication even though a chemist named Pearson published a paper in 1796 and read in the same year (Caley, 1951:64; 1949:242).

3. Osgood's (1979) observations of storage conditions and conservation practice in American and Canadian museums present considerable evidence supporting this view. His recommendations for conservation treatments are out of date at best and are, at worst, examples of the need for scientific, standardized conservation practice.

4. N. L. Caldararo, unpublished report, “A Survey of University and College Course Offerings for Descriptions Containing References to the Conservation or Restoration of Artifacts or Specimens,” 1980.

5. Although the Bonnardot books among others (Brommelle, 1956; Ruhemann, 1968) were earlier, the presentations of Rathgen and Voss were the first systematic applications of scientific techniques (trans. note, Eng. ed. Rathgen, 1905). Rathgen's 1905 publication was most often quoted and referenced, though this two-volume “Handbücher” published between 1915 and 1924 is referenced by both Rowe (1953) and Heizer & Graham (1967).

6. Although certain segments of his paper have earned criticism for the “fragmented treatment” presented (Plenderleith, 1932: 508), many items were only described in outline.

7. This concept was argued by Pettenkofer (1870) with regard to paintings and was extended by Doerner (1934) to other art objects.

8. The National Conservation Advisory Council submitted a report, Proposal for a National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (1982), which outlined a formal process and addressed the problems of the present situation; see pp. 26–27. Howie's recent research (1984) has shown the rapid application of new synthetic products and the slow rejection of materials found to be inappropriate for treatment. Another aspect of this is the reapplication of old techniques once rejected and reintroduced at a later date, such as in bleaching in paper conservation. A table such as Howie's could be constructed for bleaching showing the use of the hypochlorites; the use of hydrogen peroxide (Scott, 1926), its rejection (Hey, 1977) and reintroduction (Walsh, 1986); or the use of sugar in the stabilization of wood, its fall from favor and reintroduction (Parrent, 1985). Werner outlines the introduction of some synthetic materials in a 1968 report and later in a 1981 article.

9. Greathouse and Wessel's Deterioration of Materials (1954) provides data on the complexities of the process of deterioration of natural and synthetic materials, as well as descriptions of the disastrous results of material failing, when testing could not foresee the effects of varying climates and environments in combination with long-term oxidation, radiation and other factors.

10. Organ (personal communication, 1985) objects to this generalization which basically reflects published reports of work. As Organ points out, the demands of one's professional duties often forced practitioners to treat a wide variety of objects, yet a particular worker's publications may only reflect the most interesting challenges, a special interest, or only those specific treatments which he or she felt proposed the most significant contributions to the field. In the case of archaeology Organ's comments are even more appropriate: as the range of objects in most archaeological collections has demanded generalization in the practice of those who were charged with their care, as well as the composite nature of most archaeological and anthropological objects; this has been especially true of work on archaeological excavations.The situation has been changing, but specialization has had a much greater effect in other areas of the field of conservation, especially in paper and paintings. One particular example of the situation Organ mentions is that of George Stout, whose publications were generally in the area of Conservation of Fine Arts, mainly paintings, but whose influence and other unpublished contributions were considerable in other areas of conservation (Plenderleith, 1987). Also, his published works were often of such breadth that they could be applied to numerous problems and lines of inquiry in conservation as well as archaeology (e.g. the text on painting materials he published with Gettens in 1942).

11. E.g., B. C. Champion, “Identification et conservation des objets préhistoriqes,” Mouseion 16, (1931): pp. 35–47.

12. K.C. Chang (personal communication, 1982).

13. This view is consistent with that reported by T. Chase (1974), K.C. Chang (1977), and personal communication (1983); Colin Pearson in Museum, 32: 4: 1980, pp. 215–218; and Carol Snow (1985) and Haiwen (1985).



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