Conservation and collaboration to understand a tiponi

Nancy Odegaard


In this paper, the collaboration of a conservator and several specialists is discussed with regard to the identification, description, and preservation of an archaeological funerary fragment of painted fiber. Specialists verified the identity of the associated components. Information obtained from the conservator’s technical study also enabled a cultural representative to interpret an otherwise unclear and mysterious object. This collaboration also identified the limitations of any conservation action and established that destructive analytical techniques and the introduction of additional materials such as consolidants were prohibited. A realignment treatment enabled the conservator to preserve the object in the state of deterioration found at the time of its excavation, thereby permitting accurate reburial. Together the technical study, realignment treatment, and a cultural comparison provided information that substantiated the preservation of cultural behavior spanning a period of almost 1000 years. This conservation effort was not intended to preserve the physical form of the object. Rather, through analysis and careful realignment it preserved an understanding of the object based on technical details that the conservator was particularly suited to obtain.

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