Conservators work on archaeological finds and structures, using a knowledge of the cultural background of the subject matter as well as scientific methods to document, examine, analyse and preserve the material. It is often painstaking but extremely rewarding work, and requires an understanding of the environmental conditions in which the archaeological material has been preserved and in which it will be kept, so as to manage those conditions in the future. Conservators have three main areas of responsibility:
– on-site conservation: preserving the materials that form the basis of our knowledge about past cultures, when they are newly excavated and at their most vulnerable.
– educational outreach: bringing together the perspectives and priorities of both conservators and archaeologists, to improve our practices of excavation, curation and study.
– collaborative and multi-disciplinary research on the materials of the past. A degree in Archaeological Conservation can lead to a position in commercial archaeology, with a university department or at a museum, many of which run robust conservation institutes and programmes.