How to Be Archaeology Conservator - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

Archaeological conservators play an important role in preserving historical artifacts from the past. By carefully analyzing and treating artifacts, conservators help to ensure that these valuable items are not lost to the ravages of time and nature. Through the careful practice of cleaning, stabilizing, and protecting archaeological artifacts, conservators effectively reduce the effects of environmental damage and harmful chemicals that can destroy these fragile pieces of history.

As a result, the artifacts are able to be studied and better understood, providing researchers with more comprehensive information about the past. In addition, conservators often work with historians, archaeologists, and other experts to better understand the context in which artifacts were created and used. This collaboration helps to create a more complete picture of the past and can lead to new discoveries and advancements in our understanding of history.

Steps How to Become

  1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree. Obtain a bachelor's degree in archaeology, anthropology, or a closely related field. This is usually a prerequisite for conservator positions.
  2. Participate in Internships. Complete internships and fieldwork in archaeological conservation to gain experience. These opportunities provide hands-on experience in the field and can also help you develop relationships with people in the industry.
  3. Obtain Professional Certification. Become certified by a professional organization to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) offers certification for conservators who specialize in archaeological conservation.
  4. Pursue a Graduate Degree. Consider pursuing a Master's or Doctoral degree in archaeology or a related field to further your knowledge and qualifications.
  5. Join Professional Organizations. Participate in professional organizations such as the AIC and the Society for American Archaeology to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and trends in the field.
  6. Build Your Professional Network. Build relationships with other professionals in your field to broaden your network and gain additional knowledge and experience.
To remain qualified and updated as an archaeology conservator, one must stay abreast of new advances in conservation science, technology, and best practices. This includes keeping up-to-date with new developments in the field, such as the use of new materials and techniques, as well as attending professional conferences and workshops. Additionally, it is important to network with other conservators, to maintain relationships with suppliers and other resources, and to read professional publications in the field. In order for a conservator to be successful, it is not only necessary to have a strong knowledge of the material being preserved, but also to be able to apply the latest techniques to ensure that artifacts are kept safe and in their original condition for future generations.

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Job Description

  1. Maintain, restore and document archaeological artifacts, specimens, and collections.
  2. Diagnose and treat conservation problems with archaeological artifacts.
  3. Develop and execute conservation treatments using a variety of traditional and modern techniques.
  4. Conduct complex scientific analyses of archaeological materials to identify and interpret their physical characteristics and composition.
  5. Prepare detailed reports on the examination, treatment and condition of archaeological objects.
  6. Create preventive conservation plans for archaeological materials and collections.
  7. Monitor environmental conditions in storage and exhibit areas to ensure proper preservation of archaeological artifacts.
  8. Train and mentor other conservators, interns and volunteers in the practices of archaeological conservation.
  9. Collaborate with curators, archaeologists and other scholars to conduct research on the history and significance of archaeological artifacts.
  10. Advise on the acquisition of archaeological artifacts to ensure their proper preservation.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of conservation principles and methods
  2. Knowledge of archaeological artifacts and materials
  3. Knowledge of preventive conservation
  4. Ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders
  5. Ability to work independently and collaboratively in a team environment
  6. Ability to take initiative, solve problems, and make decisions
  7. Ability to prioritize tasks and manage multiple projects
  8. Ability to analyze and interpret data
  9. Ability to use conservation tools, equipment, and materials safely
  10. Ability to document treatments, processes, and findings accurately
  11. Knowledge of laboratory safety protocols
  12. Knowledge of collections management procedures

Archaeology conservators play a vital role in preserving the artifacts and remains of past cultures. Without the expertise and care of these professionals, much of our archaeological history would be lost. One of the most important skills an archaeology conservator must have is a deep understanding of materials science.

This knowledge allows them to recognize the chemical makeup of the objects they are preserving and determine the most appropriate treatments to use. They must also have a thorough understanding of the various methods of conservation, such as cleaning, stabilizing, consolidating, and mounting. they must possess strong problem-solving abilities to make decisions about the best course of action when faced with an artifact in poor condition.

Finally, they need excellent communication skills to effectively collaborate with other experts in the field. All these skills are crucial for archaeology conservators to succeed in their mission of preserving our past for future generations.

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Frequent Interview Questions

  • What experience do you have working with archaeological artifacts?
  • How do you assess the condition of an artifact and determine the appropriate conservation strategy?
  • What techniques do you use to determine the age of a piece?
  • What methods do you use to document an artifact?
  • How do you ensure that all conservation treatments are reversible?
  • How do you maintain safety protocols when handling archaeological artifacts?
  • What are the most common causes of deterioration in archaeological artifacts?
  • What considerations do you take into account when selecting a storage environment for an artifact?
  • How do you ensure that the artifacts you conserved remain stable for future generations?
  • What challenges have you encountered when conserving archaeological artifacts?

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Microscopes. Used to examine archaeological artifacts in detail (eg: examining pottery shards).
  2. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF). Used to determine the elemental composition of artifacts (eg: analyzing a bronze statue).
  3. Ultrasound. Used to detect internal features of an artifact that may not be visible at first glance (eg: determining the presence of internal fractures in a ceramic vessel).
  4. Archaeometry. Used to measure and analyze the physical properties of artifacts, such as age and material composition (eg: carbon dating a wooden tool).
  5. Conservation Treatments. Used to preserve artifacts from further damage (eg: applying a protective coating to an artifact to reduce corrosion).
  6. Digital Imaging. Used to capture and store images of artifacts for archiving and analysis (eg: using a digital camera to document an artifact for further research).

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. American Institute for Conservation (AIC)
  2. International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)
  3. Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI)
  4. International Council of Museums (ICOM)
  5. International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
  6. International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
  7. American Academy in Rome (AAR)
  8. Getty Conservation Institute (GCI)
  9. Society of American Archaeology (SAA)
  10. Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)

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Common Important Terms

  1. Artifact- A physical object made or modified by humans that is of archaeological or historical interest.
  2. Conservation - The process of preserving and protecting artifacts, sites, and other cultural resources from damage and destruction.
  3. Preservation - The act of preserving and protecting artifacts, sites, and other cultural resources from damage and destruction.
  4. Restoration - The act of reconstructing an object or site to its original or near-original condition.
  5. Excavation - The process of uncovering and recovering archaeological artifacts, sites, and other cultural resources through careful digging and the removal of soil.
  6. Analysis - The process of studying artifacts, sites, and other cultural resources to learn about their history and significance.
  7. Documentation - The act of collecting information about an artifact, site, or other cultural resource for the purpose of research and/or preservation.
  8. Curation - The process of managing and protecting artifacts, sites, and other cultural resources for the purpose of research, education, and exhibition.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of an Archaeology Conservator?

An Archaeology Conservator is responsible for preserving archaeological artifacts and collections through conservation, documentation, and research.

What materials do Archaeology Conservators typically work with?

Archaeology Conservators typically work with a wide range of materials, including ceramics, metals, stone, glass, textiles, and organic materials.

What techniques do Archaeology Conservators use?

Archaeology Conservators use a variety of techniques to conserve artifacts and collections, such as cleaning, stabilizing, re-assembling, consolidating, and storing.

What qualifications are required to become an Archaeology Conservator?

To become an Archaeology Conservator, one must have a degree in conservation or a related field and complete specialized training in archaeology conservation.

What organizations do Archaeology Conservators work for?

Archaeology Conservators often work for museums, universities, government agencies, conservation organizations, and private companies.

Web Resources

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