JAIC 2002, Volume 41, Number 1, Article 2 (pp. 13 to 19)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2002, Volume 41, Number 1, Article 2 (pp. 13 to 19)

A FUSION OF ARCHAEOLOGY AND CONSERVATION: PAINTED CLAY-COVERED BASKETRY FROM THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

NANCY ODEGAARD



3 ANOTHER FORM OF CLAY-COVERED BASKETRY OBJECT

In 1997 another clay-covered basketry object was recovered from outside the town of Globe, Arizona. Based on the findings from the Punkin Center study, archaeologists from Archaeological Consulting Services requested assistance from conservators. This object was delivered as a partially excavated fragment located in the interior of a ceramic bowl. Because the painted surface was allowed to dry quickly and was left unprotected during the excavation and during the months prior to conservation, it had become a thin, dry crust over a loose gravel matrix (fig. 7). All of the remaining basketry, coating, and pigment materials were extremely weak and fragile. The request included removal of the artifact, examination, and determination of technology without the use of consolidants or other additives.

Information such as stitch size, count, stitch splitting, and other details was observable in the fragmentary bits. However, many details regarding the type of foundation (rod count and arrangement) and how the piece was finished (length and style of taper, knot, or blunt end) could be determined. Details about the clay coating and pigments could be compared to the other fragments. Difficulties in reconstructing the original design and shape of the basket led to a more complete review of the context of the burial. Based on its location in the burial, the lack of any base material, and the orientation of the design elements, the object appeared to be an armband. Fragments from armbands were reviewed, and other published accounts, field notes, and reports were consulted. Technological comparisons with unpublished specimens from several museums and a review of the archaeological literature for comparable technologies were undertaken. One example had a nearly identical design, and other references indicate that decorated armbands existed at numerous sites in the American Southwest. A complete bibliography of known armband comparisons and a comparative table of traits based on published accounts and examined specimens appear in Odegaard and Hays-Gilpin (forthcoming).

Fig. 7. The clay-covered basketry armband from the Murray Wash site shown as delivered to the conservation laboratory in a ceramic bowl of Salado Red type

Also, armbands worn near the elbow are often depicted on many ancient and modern Puebloan carvings and in drawings or paintings as part of the ceremonial costume. A variety of materials including wood, metal, leather, cloth, and fur may be used as the substrate with paint or turquoise and other stones applied for decorations.


Copyright 2002 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works