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5: Artifact Preservation

  • Page ID
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    Learning Objectives

    • List the three categories of agents of deterioration and give examples.
    • Articulate the three conditions needed for decomposition.
    • Discuss what happens when the conditions needed for decomposition are not present in an archaeological site.
    • Compare and contrast the preservation capabilities of various artifact types.
    • Discuss the impact of the matrix surrounding the item and climate types on the preservation of archaeological sites.

    • 5.1: Deterioration and Decomposition
      Though stone can weather, it is inherently stable compared to organic materials used for basketry and tools. Artifacts made of wood, papyrus, and bone, for example, are perishable and prone to rapid decomposition (rot and decay), making them difficult to recover.
    • 5.2: Preservation
      It is not only the conditions present in the matrix, but climate affects the preservation of organic remains as well by dictating how much oxygen, warmth, and moisture are present. Therefore, moist, cold, or dry climates will affect the conditions of preservation.
    • 5.3: Chapter Five Review
      Review important concepts and definitions of key terms.

    Image: The upper part of bog body Windeby I a 16 year old boy on display at Archäologisches Landesmuseum Gottorf Castle, Schleswig Germany. C14 dated beween 41 and 118 AD. (2010). By Bullenwächter under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    5: Artifact Preservation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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