Conservation of Excavated Sites

During May 1993, the Getty Conservation Institute, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, conducted an eleven-day course on new approaches and techniques in the conservation of excavated sites. The aim of the course, held in Paphos, Cyprus, was to present a methodology that can be used for developing conservation policies and practices to conserve excavated sites. Course topics included principles of site management, developing a management plan, conducting a condition survey, a review of preservation options, and techniques of site stabilization. During the course, participants visited several archaeological sites in the vicinity of Paphos.

The course was attended by nineteen participants from eleven countries—Israel, Poland, Tunisia, Chile, Cyprus, Slovenia, Greece, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Tanzania, and the United States. Participants included senior staff members of national departments of antiquities or archaeological services, conservation architects, and directors of large excavations. The principal instructors for the course were Neville Agnew, Martha Demas, and Margaret Mac Lean of the Conservation Institute, and John Stewart of the National Trust in London.

 

Two Training Activities in Belize

Xunantunich in west-central Belize is the site of a Maya residential and ceremonial center dating back to the 8th century AD. Since 1992, the Getty Conservation Institute has been providing technical advice and assistance to the Xunantunich Archaeological Project as part of the Institute's efforts to address the problems of conserving archaeological sites in humid, tropical environments. (The Institute's activities at the site will be covered in a future issue of Conservation).

In conjunction with its work at Xunantunich, the Conservation Institute conducted two training programs for Belize officials working with the country's cultural heritage.

Conservation image

In late June 1993, the Institute held a three day seminar on archaeological site management with the seven members of the Belize Department of Archaeology. The objective of the seminar was to review the Department's current policies and to assist in the drafting of a new policy statement. During the seminar, led by the Institute's Nicholas Stanley Price and Martha Demas, participants heard presentations from Augusto Molina-Montes, formerly director of Historic Monuments for the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México; Angel Cabeza, an archaeologist with Chile's Corporación Nacional Forestal, and Richard Leventhal, director of UCLA's Institute of Archaeology and of the excavations at Xunantunich. The group also heard from Belize's Permanent Secretary of Tourism & the Environment, Dr. Victor Gonzales.

Participants drafted a ten-page document covering a number of policy areas including the management of tourism consistent with site conservation, public education regarding the nation's heritage, control of looting at sites, the storage and maintenance of collections, and a defining of the range of historic sites to be given official attention. This document is presently being reviewed within the Ministry of Tourism & the Environment which oversees the Department of Archaeology.

During the last two weeks of July 1993, the Conservation Institute conducted a collections management workshop for staff members of the Belize Departments of Archaeology and Museums. Staff of the Archives Department also attended. The purpose of the workshop was to provide professionals in these Departments with information on methods and materials being used by other institutions in the managing of their collections.

The workshop's program included lectures on the general principles of conservation (particularly preventive conservation), discussions of disaster preparedness, pest management and collections care, and a review of procedures in the handling and storing of artifacts. The principal instructor for the workshop was Elizabeth Cornu, a conservator with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Valerie Dorge of the Institute's Training Program coordinated the workshop and assisted in instruction.