EUREKA project designs methods to preserve archaeological artefacts in situ

February 17, 2003

Brussels, 14 Feb 2003

A EUREKA project is helping to preserve the past with the development of on site methods for displaying archaeological artefacts.

The project, EUROCARE ARCH IN-SITU, led by a Swedish and Slovenian partnership, addresses the current situation, in which increasing numbers of artefacts, having been removed from their excavation sites and placed on exhibition, are now suffering irreversible deterioration due to inadequate conservation treatment.

'We want to help save the heritage of future generations,' says Milan Kovac, architect and project coordinator.

However, leaving artefacts at their original excavation sites can also be problematic in cases where sites lack access to adequate facilities and expertise. As each site also requires different methods of conservation, the EUREKA project looked at developing customised conservation techniques.

The project involved a wide spectrum of experts, including archaeologists, lighting engineers, materials scientists and microbiologists, addressing issues such as climate and weather pollutants such acid rain, as well as, the impact of tourism on sites.

The experts investigated in particular one method of protecting artefacts in situ which appeared to be very effective: Multilayer laminated glass is thermoglazed and contains a film that can, using electricity, help ventilate artefacts, keeping them free from humidity and temperature change.

Another advantage of the glass is that it is able to partially support the weight of the artefacts. The structure supporting the glass also plays an important role in stabilising the glass and protecting the artefacts from the impact of vibration.

A working example of the project's techniques can be found at Crnomelj in Slovenia, where the team of experts have designed a glazed and sealed floor and wall structure to preserve the artefacts in situ of an Iron Age settlement, a Roman defence wall and tower and a medieval settlement with two city walls. A similar technique is also being used to preserve the Robba's fountain Ljubljana.

Mr Kovac hopes to extend the project's work beyond Slovenia. ' In the future, we hope to be able to set up a team of glass producers, heating and lighting companies and consultants, to advise and set up preservation projects all over the world.'

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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