TO WHAT EXTENT ARE ETHICAL ISSUES AND CONSERVATION IMPORTANT IN THE STUDY OF ARCHAEOLOGY?
Ethics in archaeology refers to the number of moral issues that are raised regarding the moral behavior of those excavating and those dealing with historical evidence and artifacts. Each one of these issues can be debated as being positive or negative but nonetheless they are all very important issues in the study of archaeology as they can be the core reasons as to why we preserve or conserve. Conservation is also very important in terms of archaeology because if we didn't conserve, all the precious unattainable artifacts would perish and be lost forever. But as far as it's important, conservation still has its own disadvantages.
Conservation in terms of archaeology is the maintaining or preservation and the restoration of archaeological, historical, cultural sites and artifacts. Conservation is a very important issue in regards to the study of archaeology because without conservation, most of these valuable and irreplaceable artifacts will perish, important historical data would be lost- to the excavators and future archaeologists who which to re-examine the material. And in the future, when our technology develops even further, we might find more valuable information about the past.
Conservation involves the repairing of artifacts. For example, if a coffin is found with broken parts, conservation is done on it, by remaking the damage part of the artifact by how we assume it would've been like. Like in the trip to Nicholson Museum, the tour guide showed us a coffin, the bottom of the coffin this missing and it's replaced with something of how we assumed the shape was like. This was evidence of conservation. And historical sites like Egyptian and Greek temples are constantly being conserved as well as the artifacts put in museums. The artifacts should be placed in museums where they can be conserved from any damages made whilst before they were excavated. Conservation isn't remaking the artifact, detracting it from its natural appearance or altering its scientific attributes. The aim of conservation is so that you retain as much of the original form of the artifact as possible yet having it remain chemically stable. Its original surfaces, dimensions and forms would be preserved as much as possible. And it should be reversible where possible. Due to changing climates in the environment, it can cause the valuable artifacts to deteriorate and they might be lost forever. An example of conservation without manipulating the original monument is the restoration of the Great Sphinx of Egypt. New materials were used to the replace the old and deteriorating ones as well as the stone blocks that have come off. It is very important as it is the only way we have of preserving the artifacts for the future.
Though conservation is important, there are also many arguments against conservation. Conservation means to try to chemically stabilize artifact by repairing, adding some of our own artificial material to prevent it from breaking apart though we try to do this with minimal alterations to the artifact itself. This might work for while, but it still doesn't change the fact that the artifact will still deteriorate and if this builds up, what are we to do? Continue to conserve? We can again, use the example of the Sphinx. The Sphinx's paws were replaced with new stones that didn't match the original stone. Eventually most of the original stone would be replaced. This leads to the next argument.
Conservation can be very expensive; it can cost even more than the original excavation itself. And in order for us to get this money to conserve these specimens, we need tourism. If we have a pouring amount of tourists, we can earn money for conservation to be achieved. But tourism has its own disadvantages. Though being in museums with the correct temperature, they still face a lot of human...