The Secondary Context Workshop: A Report

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Site ravaged by looting, SE corner of the enclosing walls of the inner city, Al Resafa, Syria. Image, courtesy of the photographer, Thomas Schutyser

Site ravaged by looting, SE corner of the enclosing walls of the inner city, Al Resafa, Syria. Image, courtesy of the photographer, Thomas Schutyser

A Report

In the waning days of November, 2011, colleagues in archaeology and related sciences with special interest in research issues centering on the Ancient Near East gathered in San Francisco for their annual meeting. Over 800 of some 1300 members were in attendance; and of these, fully ten percent attended our workshop! (more…)

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2 Comments for : The Secondary Context Workshop: A Report
    • Susanne Grieve
    • April 13, 2012

    This was a fantastic session during the 2011 ASOR meeting. Unfortunately this type of discussion is overdue in archaeology. Most importantly the organizers presented a variety of opinions and views by different specialists, but the conversation is just starting and there needs to be more input from various specialists. As a conservator, I am often faced with a similar ethical dilemma in whether to preserve these types of materials. While the archaeologists can debate about whether or not to publish on excavated material, the objects still require stabilization to survive while the debate continues. While this is becoming a common discussion among archaeological conservators, we haven’t reached the level of organization and conversation that you are currently pursuing. I look forward to hearing more from panellists and presenters at ASOR in Chicago. I feel that conservators can work more closely with archaeologists on this issue since many times there is possibly evidence on objects that could identify the context of some materials. Sanchita Balachandran has been a supporter of these discussions among conservators and has published a few items on the topic. I think the strategy and format you have used so far is a good way of creating something that can cause change. I see ASOR as setting the example for future conversations among allied professionals.

  1. Dear Ms. Grieve, as a conservator aware of objects that "require stabilization to survive", I'm curious how many objects (or percentage of objects) have been brought to you in irreparable condition that could've been preserved had they been brought to you sooner, or handled better by whomever originally found them.

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