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Conservation Science

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At the Freer and Sackler galleries, workshop participants concentrated on historic period ceramics. We were able also to see behind-the-scenes storage and the exhibition, “Taking Shape: Ceramics in Southeast Asia,” featuring about 200 ceramic vessels providing a record of human activity in the region from prehistoric times to the present. At the Penn Museum, workshop participants discussed the state of study of prehistoric pottery from Southeast Asia and examined at first hand vessels from Ban Chiang and related sites. Several presentations on studies of modern day potters in Southeast Asia also enriched the discussions. Some comments from the workshop participants:

“Thank you very much for such an interesting workshop! The presentations and the discussions were really rewarding and stimulating. It was a rare and precious moment which will recur I hope! The organisation of this workshop was amazing and I hope to be able to participate in the organisation of the next one” –Béatrice Wisniewski, École pratique des hautes études, France “This was a great time, I have not only learned more from other sites in Southeast Asia but also build good connections with other researchers. Furthermore, I had good advices from them and got some precious documents and some program for improving my research career in Cambodia. I am so proud what you have done.” –Visoth Chhay, National Museum of Cambodia/Denver A layperson may not realize the central importance of ceramics in the study of most prehistoric archaeological societies. Ceramics are often the primary basis for studying everything from the chronology and cultural sequence of a site, to the economic organization of the past society, to the ritual behavior at ancient funerals. The study of ceramics is labor-intensive, often lasting several years and involving several researchers. Reconstructing broken vessels, technical drawing, photography, measuring and other descriptive tasks, studying their in situ context, plus a...