Sort and Stabilize
Conservators can work with archaeologists to assign priorities to the different material groups of artifacts both during and after excavation. Some types of material may need to undergo full conservation treatment to stabilize them to withstand future handling, display, and storage. Others may only need to be documented and analyzed. The first step is identification and triage in the field.
Conservators Terri Schindel and Betty Seifert sort through organic debris inside the lead coffin. Sprigs of rosemary and preserved silk ribbons were discovered.
During excavation of each of the coffins, a wide range of materials was discovered, identified and prioritized. Different members of the team took charge of caring for different materials. Some materials would need to undergo full conservation treatment in order to stabilize the artifacts for future study, handling, display and storage. To keep these materials intact until full treatment could be performed required refrigeration of organics and careful drying of metals. Other materials would only need to be analyzed, and the information they retained could be preserved through scientific study.