Digital Kourion: The Condition Survey
A condition survey of all the objects from the Kourion collection was part of the Digital Kourion Project. The goals of the condition survey were to review the condition of the entire collection and use that information to establish treatment and preservation priorities and recommendations, to photograph between 500-1000 objects, and stabilize as many objects as possible based on the results of the survey.
The survey consisted of a systematic examination of the Penn Museum's collection from Kourion using a controlled vocabulary. 1,986 objects were examined, and these objects included the full range of the materials present in the collection: ceramics, copper alloy, iron, gold, silver, bone, ivory, faience, glass, stone, plaster, lead, tooth, shell, wood, and antler, as well as some unknown materials. The controlled vocabulary allowed for the identification of the collections needs for its long-term preservation.
Approximately 680 objects were photographed. The objects selected for record photography were intended to be representative of all of the Kourion sub-sites and the various materials present. These photographs are now available on the Penn Museum Online Collections Database and this website.
After the condition survey component of the project was completed, conservation treatment began on the objects identified as having soluble salts. This group was selected for treatment as soluble salt damage is cyclic and if left untreated/mitigated the objects will continue to undergo active deterioration.
The soluble salts were identified using micro chemical spot tests, spot test papers, and polarized light microscopy in an effort to better understand the likely source for these salts. Soluble salts can be present in archaeological objects through exposure to groundwater/moisture in the burial environment, reflect original use/contents, result as bi-products of previous conservation treatments, or enter through materials present in the storage environment. Following the analysis, it was determined that the salts most likely resulted from the burial environment.
More information about the conservation component of the Digital Kourion Project can be found at The Penn Museum Blog.
Tessa de Alarcón