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Tapping the Memory in Archaeological Materials

  • Michael R. Notis (a1), Charles E. Lyman (a1), Heidi Moyer (a1) and Christopher Cowen (a1)

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In the areas of archaeology, archaeometry, museum management and conservation science conflict often exists between the desire to preserve, and the desire to understand an artifact. This conflict exists because much laboratory analysis can be destructive. However, conservation can best be done when the materials and techniques that were used for making the object originally are understood. Thus there is a constant drive to develop non-destructive and/or microsample analysis procedures that are meaningful in terms of the statistical accuracy of the results and the added understanding that they provide. In addition to the availability of new microanalytical techniques, the scientific approach developed in materials science is of great value to the fields of archaeometry and conservation science. The ‘materials science approach’ involves the determination of structure and chemistry at various levels in the microstructural hierarchy, and includes the relationship between this structure and chemistry and the material's properties. On the other hand, the study of archaeological materials can be of great value to the materials scientist because these objects exist in a time frame not reproduceable in typical laboratory experiments.

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