Electrochemistry in Historical and Archaeological Conservation

11 - 15 January 2010

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Electrochemical techniques for the conservation of archaeological and historic artefacts first came into use towards the end of the 19th century, but it is only later on that conservators actually started applying them routinely to their artefacts.  Unfortunately, it was common to perform treatments with minimal consideration of the electrochemical parameters.  Moreover, lack of monitoring of the electrochemical processes regularly resulted in negative side effects such as the embrittlement of artefacts during the evolution of hydrogen.  Many conservators eventually abandoned electrochemistry as, in their experience, it was considered too dangerous for the artefacts and too difficult to monitor.  Nevertheless, electrochemical techniques are essential in the conservation of corroded metal objects.

Today we are in a situation where professionals who develop and optimize new (electro-chemical) techniques are no longer the ones who are in direct contact with the artefacts.  Moreover they publish in peer-reviewed journals that are not accessible to the end-users (in this case the conservators) and give talks at scientifically oriented conferences where conservation professionals are not represented. As a result, instead of progress for the benefit of the artefacts, we do not see much collaborative work between the professionals concerned, and the essential mutual exploration of the application of new concepts developed on real artefacts is lacking.  There is a risk that new knowledge gained is kept within universities and research institutes.

With this workshop we would like to contribute to closing this communication gap.  The workshop will offer a discussion platform for all active professionals (conservators, conservation scientists and analytical scientists) interested in, or involved with, the use of electrochemical techniques for the conservation of archaeological and historic artefacts.  Also, it will serve as a forum for Ph.D. students, which allows them to present their work to professionals for critical evaluation.  The workshop will review the current efforts in the field made both by analytical scientists and conservation professionals.  Teamwork on topics of common interest will be discussed and promoted.  In addition a strategy will be established for the dissemination of information and promotion of good practice guidelines to the conservation community.  The workshop foresees a number of laboratory experiments and group discussions.

This workshop is sponsored by the International Society of Electrochemistry


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