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Archaeological Site Preservation

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​Students get real world experience at the Kilik Mishik archaeological site in Erbil


​At the end of the Archaeological Site Preservation Course, students will have the skills to understand the theory behind, and types of archaeological survey; understand identification / evaluation techniques; understand basic concepts and applications of remote sensing; understand basic GPS and GIS techniques, and employ them in support of field work; understand the types of threats to archaeological sites; understand approaches and techniques to physically protect / preserve archaeological sites; identify, classify and prioritize threats to archaeological sites, and organize and present the data on site preservation priorities to support decision making processes. 

MODULE 1: Course Schedule and Descriptions

The ASP course will be offered twice, for up to twelve students in each course, in 2013.  The first course, detailed below, will begin 28 April and end on 3 July.  Specific topics and dates for the second course are to be determined.

Student Arrival / In-processing  (2-3 days before the course start). On-site experience with other UD IICAH programs indicates that the initial offering of any course is confusing to the IICAH staff and leadership as well as the newly arrived students.  The first two-three days will be spent ensuring an adequate number of students with the appropriate skillsets, as well as the desire to train, arrive and settle into the IICAH. 

Basics of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing Techniques. Topics to be covered include: Theory of GIS and Remote Sensing – what is it / how does it work?; How is it useful in site survey, at all scales?; Intro to GIS software – open source; Discussion of types of imagery; Georeferencing / Rectification imagery, etc.; Lab/local field exercise.     

Introduction to Course / Survey Approaches. Topics to be covered include: Theory and Types of Survey (Traditional Approaches / Importance of Landscape Approaches); Identification / Evaluation Techniques (From site to regional scales / Importance of Research / Use of traditional and advanced methods (i.e. tech based) / Intro to GIS mapping and remote sensing as concepts / tools / Erbil Plain Archaeological Survey explanation; 2012 findings); Understanding Threats to Archaeological Sites - Natural and Anthropogenic Processes.

Field survey – ground-truthing results. Students will travel to sites already located by Ur in the 2012 EPAS field session. The class will be split into two or three groups, and each group will be assigned a field archaeologist as a team leader. The team leaders will be responsible for reinforcing the processes and procedures explained in the classroom.  Students will learn the basics of GPS, and its use in the field. Classification of the site, to include threats and existing conditions, will be the primary focus.

Understanding and Prioritization of Site Needs. Using information recovered in the field, students will learn how to organize and present the data to support decision making processes. Which sites are threatened by existing deterioration? Is the deterioration cause by natural or anthropogenic processes? Which sites are threatened by development? Discussion will include subjective and objective approaches to prioritizing sites based on field data, as well as through a values-based approach. Collaboration with various stakeholders in the process will be emphasized (from government officials, to cultural heritage professionals, to avocational archaeologists, to lay people (including villagers and others not traditionally involved in decisions concerning cultural heritage in Iraq). Students will learn that empirical data can be used in many ways, in support of or in contrast to the decision making process for the follow on treatment of sites.

Basics of Site Stabilization, Protection, and Preservation. Students will learn approaches and techniques to physically protect and preserve archaeological sites.  Topics in this portion of the course will introduce non-invasive methods including simple structural stabilization, site coverings (i.e. canopies and covers), and site security (fencing, controlled access measures, etc.). Students will visit active and open excavation sites to learn how to identify the proper approach for different types of deterioration or threat. Mock sites may be constructed at the IICAH to give students hands-on experience in stabilizing sites. Approaches to planning and budgeting for these methods will also be discussed.

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Archaeological Site Preservation
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489