Consolidation of Archeological Bone

Megan H. Smith, Dr. David W. Morgan
Purpose : To find gaps in our knowledge about bone consolidation and to determine a focus for future research
How do Bones Become Artifacts? How do Bones Become Artifacts?
 Hunting – kill sites  Trash pits  Burials  Bone objects or tools
Bone knife handle

What is Consolidation? What is Consolidation? Consolidation is the process of strengthening fragile archeological artifacts. Bones are consolidated with liquid polymer, a chemical compound which penetrates the bone. When the treated bone dries it is much stronger. How are Bones Consolidated? How are Bones Consolidated?
 Brush application  Submersion  Eye dropper  Controlled storage

What Happens to Bones after Death?
 Cracking (photo center, bottom)  Delamination (photo left)  Water logging  Disintegration (photo center, top)

What Can We Learn from Bones?
 Dietary Information  Type of tools for butchering  Date of archeological site  Domestication of animals  Migration patterns  Human hunting methods  Residence layout  Subsistence practices

Can Treatments be Removed? Can Treatments be Removed?
 Treatments can interfere with future study  Past treatments unstable  Polymers can bind with cells  Some actions are destructive

 Little research exists on the degree of penetration of polymer

Conclusions and Future Research

Treatment and Artificial Aging
Treated samples will be artificially aged in a weathering chamber so that we can estimate how the polymer treatments will behave over time.

Removing Consolidant and Studying Results Removing and Studying Results
After aging, we will measure amount of polymer absorbed by the samples and try to remove the polymers from the bone. Close examination and the use of medical techniques will tell us how successful we are.

treatments on archeological bone

 NCPTT will run comparative studies of polymers used on bone to determine how deeply they penetrate and to what degree they are reversible The first study will compare Acryloid B-72 and Acrysol WS-24 polymers. Samples will be taken from both fresh and archaeological bone, preferably from the long bones of a large species of animal.

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