CONSERVATION \ 72c-pln
1: G. Buccellati, August 2010
OptimumThe insistence that conservation should be inscribed in the very strategy of excavation means, of course, that planning is of the essence. The point about strategy is that planning is not only important in terms of the technical efficiency of the preservation effort as such. Beyond that, planning is important because it impinges on the initial choices about excavation. Decisions about how to proceed, how extensive an exposure can be, even what tools to use, all of this should be coordinated, if not subordinated, to serious considerations about the risk of damage and the potential for avoiding it or at least ameliorating it if it should occur. Clearly, all of this is best handled by a professional conservator who should be included in the staff. This conservator should then have direct access to the excavators and be involved in the reasoning that goes into establishing the goals and procedures for the excavations.
In this respect, planning has to do with projections about feasibility on the basis of what knowledge we have before excavations take place.
On the practical level, planning must then extend of course to the allocation of resources. Besides personnel, one should include costs of equipment and supplies that are expected to be needed.
Back to top
RealityIn practice, it must be admitted that is seldom the case that planning might take place on a regular basis on the scale outlined above. On the one hand, the cost of a dedicated professional conservator who might be present for the entire duration of an excavation exceeds the financial range of most, if not all, projects.
But there is also the generally widespread attitude that conservation should be invoked in case of emergency, and that in any case it can safely be left for a moment subsequent to the excavation itself, when a new effort can be made to raise appropriate separate funding.
It is in order to counteract both aspects of the problem that it seems particularly important to insist on the need for the excavator to develop at least a specific sensitivity for conservation problems, and to apply it quite explicitly to the planning stages of each season's work. Sensitivity is no surrogate for professional competence. But it can be very significant in coloring the details of the excavation plans, and to allow for potential problems to be identified in time for a professional conservator to address in a more limited period of time than for the entire duration of the season. Back to top