Integrating archeology and conservation: Beyond dialogue or where’s the synergy?

Allen S. Bohnert

Abstract

The fields of archeology and conservation continue to have limited, if not downright spasmodic, relationships in the United States. This paper will briefly discuss these relationships from a historic perspective. Specific projects will be described to illustrate a broad range of collaborative efforts, focusing on both successful and problematic encounters.

Successful archeology projects require the integration of conservation philosophy, theory, and methods from the initial planning phase through to the final curation phase. Archeologists routinely collaborate with specialists from other disciplines (i.e. biology, geology) to assist with research efforts. Archeologists and conservators commonly have the same goals, though based on different and occasionally conflicting, priorities. This paper will explore the importance of collaboration with conservators in terms of the mutual benefits provided by such working relationships.

Finally, the paper will suggest several mechanisms to expend working relationships and to provide for improved mutual understanding between archeologists and conservators.