CHAPTER 11: Buried Archaeological Materials
Published:04 Jan 2021
Ceramics, stones, metallic objects, bones, leather, wood and textiles are among the most important categories of archaeological remains. The information carried by these materials is often invaluable, as they represent precious and sometimes unique windows into past civilizations and into the evolution of humankind. Scientific research has the aim of selecting the most suitable analytical techniques in order to characterize these materials and retrieve the maximum amount of information possible without compromising the integrity of the objects. In a parallel way, conservation strategies have been extensively researched with the intention of preserving this precious archaeological evidence for future generations. However, both scientific and conservation research must first take into account the characteristics of the burial environments and their impact on the state of preservation of archaeological remains. This is particularly important for organic materials, as these are naturally degraded in most common conditions and are therefore relatively rare in archaeological findings. This chapter discusses the burial environments that permit the survival of archaeological materials, and also the implications that specific environmental agents have on the state of preservation of such materials. The analytical approaches used to scientifically investigate archaeological objects, assess their state of preservation and support conservation choices are also presented.