The primary mission of the W.D.E. Coulson Conservation Laboratory is the conservation and protection of the material unearthed by American and Greek-American excavation projects in East Crete, including both small finds and architectural remains. The Director of the Study Center normally prioritizes projects based on requests from project directors, unless there is a special need for emergency treatment of unstable material on site or in the lab.
In order to keep up with the publication schedule of the large number of archaeological projects in the region, the conservation staff recently has intensified their efforts with the small finds, particularly ceramic objects. For example, last year myself and Matina Tzari, in collaboration with T. Katrakazis and A. Tsoupra, conservation graduates from the Dept of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art (Technological Educational Institute) conservation program, treated more than 2,300 objects from Pacheia Ammos Industrial Area (Pefka), Mochlos, and Papadiokambos. We cleaned and desalinated all these objects; about half have been mended and their gaps filled. In addition, Kathy Hall treated many ceramic and metal objects from Chryssi, Karfi, Livari, and Priniatikos Pyrgos; Kellee Caldwell undertook the conservation of the finds from the recent excavations at Gournia. In May 2010, the Study Center hired Agapetos Legakis to finish the conservation of the Pseira shipwreck pottery including examination, documentation, radiographic study, cleaning, boxing, and reorganizing the entire ceramic assemblage from four excavation seasons from 2006 to 2009.
During the past two years, because of the increased demands on the laboratory, we have made several major upgrades to our equipment. We tripled the capacity of our Reverse Osmosis System in order to cover our washing need, and added a pneumatic micro chisel and an ultrasonic pen to assist with the conservation of objects recovered from the Pseira Shipwreck.
Another major objective is the safeguarding of the archaeological sites which are being excavated. In the spring 2010, a new collaboration was initiated between the Study Center and two central departments of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments (DRAM) and the Directorate of Conservation of Ancient and Modern Monuments (DCAMM). The goals of this program are the monitoring and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the mortar mixes that have been used for the conservation/consolidation of the architectural remains. We plan to develop new mortars that will use local sand and earth that has been excavated at each site so as to be more compatible, both in consistency and appearance, with the original earthen fill of the walls,. By utilizing local materials, we will make the site conservation programs sustainable by reducing the cost of the raw materials. In collaboration with Dr. Eleni Toumbakari, who has already carried out research on the development of earth based mortars for the consolidation of prehistoric monuments of Attica and has worked on pilot field applications (at Thoricos and Achanae), and Dr. Thanos Papathanassopoulos, head of the prehistory department in the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments, samples of soil from Mochlos and the local sand quarry of Tourloti already have been examined and used in experimental applications at Mochlos this summer.
In order to monitor and evaluate our experimental application at Mochlos, we are planning to proceed with experimental and analytical work, taking advantage of the established collaboration and the experience of the partners involved. The long-term objective of this collaboration is to achieve a better understanding of the parameters affecting the mortars exposed on the site and to create a protocol for the conservation of prehistoric architecture on East Crete.
|Figure 4. Dr. Eleni Toumbakari and Thanos Papathanasopoulos with Costis Frangiadakis working on the application of experimental earth mortars at Mochlos.
In addition to the numerous object and site conservation projects, the staff of the laboratory is contributing to the long term storage project that Eleanor Huffman is coordinating. We plan to optimize the storage space by housing ceramic objects from old excavations in new boxes with lids and with neutral and long-lasting padding materials. Two conservation interns from TEI in Athens, Stefanie Kavda and Mary Tryfonopoulou, worked on the storage project for six months during the spring and summer of 2010. Now they are developing a protocol for the storage of ceramics as a major part of their final dissertation.
Another short-term conservation intern, Elizabeth Drolet from the Getty/UCLA MA program on Museum Studies, joined the conservation team for three weeks. She assisted with the conservation of pottery and other small finds, the radiographic study of various objects, and on-site first aid and storage of ivory objects.
In 2007 and 2009, Kathy Hall organized two short training courses on X-Radiography and handheld X-Ray Fluorescence applications. In 2008, Dr. Richard Jones and Brendan Derham of the Dept of Archaeology, University of Glasgow, and Dr. Stephania Chlouveraki organized a one-day workshop, “The Application of Non- and Micro-Destructive Analysis Techniques in Archaeology and Conservation” within the framework of a research project, on the application of laser-based techniques of analysis, in particular Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy. Many conservators from throughout Greece attended these events, and we took the opportunity to show them through the laboratory.