CONSERVATION LAB AND
in the Conservation Lab and Magazzino
The processing and analysis of all material
recovered from survey and excavation takes place in the laboratory.
The lab at Poggio Colla has two locations: a ground floor area
adjoining Guardia and a building located next to Selve. Artifacts
are usually processed in consecutive stages, however the fragility
or significance of the object will sometimes require one of the
following stages to take precedence over the others: inventory,
conservation, cataloguing and documentation and storage. Initial
inventory, conservation and archaeological illustration usually
take place at Guardia, while cataloguing, research, photography
and storage take place at Selve.
Every morning the Director of Materials
and laboratory assistants begin by taking an inventory of all
the material brought down from the site the previous day. Typically,
this material has either been designated as a find by the trench
supervisor or grouped by its fabric (black glaze, bucchero, fine
ware, coarse ware, impasto, etc.) into sherd bags. The sherd
bags will be inventoried in the most basic of ways, where their
contents are counted and recorded. Sherd Count Forms, Tile Count
Forms, and Bag List, are the responsibility of the trench supervisors,
however the cataloguer does document the acquisition of the material
by the lab. Finds are inventoried in a more detailed manner.
They are first recorded into the Find Index (which requires the
following information: Trench Number, Date, Find Number, Description
and Notebook Page). Next, they are visually inspected by the
Director of Materials to determine which artifacts should be
catalogued and which should remain non-catalogued objects; the
conservator and other directors may aid in this process.
Once an artifact has been designated
for catalogue status it is assigned a catalogue number. The catalogue
number, which consists of the last two digits of the excavation
year followed by a consecutive Arabic number, is then recorded
on the Find Tag in red and in the Find Index (e.g. the first
find of the 2002 season will be 02-001). It is then sent to conservation
2007 Conservation and Illustration
lab and staff:
Josiah Wagener, Allison Lewis, Wendy Walker, and Anne Hooton
Gretchen Meyers shows a bucchero vessel to visitors.
Conservation involves the cleaning, repair,
consolidation, and preservation of material remains. The conservation
lab follows two basic principles: to handle an object as carefully
and as minimally as possible and to practice the principle of
reversibility. The latter is especially important, for it insures
that any treatment applied to an object is reversible at a later
date with no resulting damage or change to the object.
The Conservation staff at Poggio Colla
work with the materials of the excavation to facilitate the interpretation
of the site and ensure the preservation of archaeological data
and objects for future researchers. The staff consult with archaeologists
choose appropriate techniques that best suit Poggio Colla's site
and storage conditions and conform to the best ethical practices
Finds are cleaned and consolidated
by conservators in the lab
Treatments can include the mechanical
cleaning, reassembly, and careful storage of finds. Objects are
stored using stable materials and in conditions that mitigate
future damage from handling and environment. Objects are treated
to preserve their chemical and mechanical integrity by providing
supportive storage mounts and maintaining environmental conditions
The volume of material that is found
varies but often includes substantial amounts of ceramics. Conservators
work with excavators and students to develop procedures and guidance
on pottery washing. Our aim is to preserve as much information
as possible from all archaeological material and requires the
involvement of every excavation member.
reports on the conservation lab and magazzino, see Conservation.
After receiving proper conservation treatments,
an artifact selected for cataloguing is returned to the Director
of Materials. It is at this point that the object is entered
into the excavation database where it will be described in detail.
The cataloguer records the artifact's material, detailed measurements,
and a precise description. The Poggio Colla catalogue provides
more than descriptive information on an object; it also records
the provenance of the artifact, references to the trench notebook,
negative and drawing numbers, and information concerning storage.
In addition, digital photographs supplement the entry. It is
searchable in many fields and serves as a vital tool for all
research on material culture from the site.
Robert Belanger cleans
and drawing finds from his trench in the pottery
shed at Vigna, before they are moved to the magazzino for processing.
Gretchen Meyers catalogues finds
and stores them in the magazzino.
Once the catalogue entry is complete,
the object is documented by with both digital and black and white
photography and technical illustrations. Objects are then prepared
for storage. Storage preparation includes the marking of the
catalogue number on the object in permanent ink, placing the
artifact and find tag into an archival bag, and then assigning
the object to an appropriate box. Boxes are grouped first by
excavation year and then by material fabric. Storage completes
the basic sequence of artifact processing.
During the excavation season, all catalogued
objects, with the exception of items removed and stored elsewhere
due to their high value, are stored in assigned boxes in the
Selve lab space. An inventory of all catalogued objects is conducted
at the start and completion of each season. Only lab personnel
and excavation staff should handle and remove catalogued objects
from their storage location. During the remainder of the year,
catalogued objects are stored in a basement facility in the Museo
Beato Angelico in Vicchio. This facility also holds all non-catalogued
finds and bagged ceramics, metal, ecofacts, soil samples and
tile, in boxes organized according to excavation year and trench
2005 Illustrator Anne Hooten at
Illustrators draw catalogued and conserved
objects in the magazzino. Profiles, reconstructions, and surface
decorations are among the concerns of the illustrator. Drawings
made to scale add to the kind of information recorded in photographs
and to the information used by staff and other researchers to
analyze the material culture of Poggio Colla.
2005 Illustrator Anne Hooten
drawing the hearth in Trench PC 23.
illustration of a smoke hole tile
Catalogued finds are photographed in
color as well as in black and white. These photographs are kept
in the archives at SMU and are used for publications by the professional
staff of the excavation. Finds are also photographed digitally
for our CD-Rom image archives. Director Greg Warden and Stephanie
Brown are our official object photographers.
Director Greg Warden shoots
catalogued finds for publication.
Stephanie Brown shoots finds for database and publication