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Conservation of Artifacts

Conservation of ArtifactsThe restoration of archaeological sites is made by professionals, which protect the site from the damage it has suffered, and restore it to its original state. Even the excavation itself is a destructive force that needs to be counteracted with a conservation plan. The partially excavated site cannot be filled back with the material that held it together, so in order to preserve it well for the future generations, it is usually conserved in good shape. There are many techniques to preserve a damaged site. These are:

  • Restoration: means the return to a known earlier state of a place or fabric, by cleaning it from traces that are alien to the original material. The difficulty with this technique is that it cannot introduce new material or information, as it is mainly used to preserve at best the existing parts.
  • Reconstruction: introduces new material into the fabric or place it aims to return to a known earlier state. The process is based on the consultation of documents and materials that contain information about the site or object. There are some discussion whether this technique is considered restoration, as it introduces alien material to the original work. However, these parts are always meant to be recognisable and reversed by experts.
  • Recreation or renovation: is the method applied that builds deductively on sites from drawings, or other sources of information, using new materials. This is the least preferred restoration technique, as it is not reversible, and sometimes materials are destroyed during the process.
  • Relocation method: is used when the site is very damaged, and it presents a threat to the integrity of the parts. A classic example is the temple of Abu Simbel, which was relocated due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, that would have swallowed the site with water.