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Thursday, May 31 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
(Architecture + Archaeological Conservation) Preventive conservation training in the Moche Valley, Peru

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The MOCHE, Inc. Conservation Field School in summer 2017 (Huanchaco, Peru) provided training in preventive conservation and collections care on archaeological sites to binational undergraduate, graduate, and pre-program students . This paper reports on the program, which, co-directed by an archaeologist and conservator, aimed to bridge the gaps between training for work in the field and for work in museum collections. The program provided the opportunity for students to gain an encompassing perspective of the life-history of material culture from excavation through processing and analysis, to storage and display. We believe this holistic perspective is essential for all cultural heritage professionals, yet training programs of this type are not always available. Participants came to the program with varying levels of skills and experience in archaeology and conservation. American students and Peruvian students from the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo worked together on excavated materials from the regional survey led by UNT's archaeology lab. The students participated in archaeological excavation, finds processing, and recording, working hands-on with finds from the current and previous field seasons. As part of program curriculum they also learned about and engaged in basic conservation and collections management principles and practices. This work complemented the field school’s instruction in the materials that make up the archaeological record and the prehistory of the north coast of Peru. Students used close observation of the project collections to understand how the objects were made and used, and identified modifications in the objects from initial use-life and those occurring during deposition and post-excavation. Students visited archaeological storage facilities in Peru and learned about principles of safe storage and packing for archaeological finds. At the close of the program, students carried out some of the proposed improvements for safe objects packing using appropriate materials and methods. The students also visited archaeological sites and museums throughout the region to understand the benefits and risks that tourism development brings to local communities. This program is part of MOCHE Inc’s broader heritage preservation efforts. MOCHE, INC (Mobilizing Opportunities for Community Heritage Empowerment, http://savethemoche.org/) is an organization founded by archaeologists dedicated to improving the standard of living in impoverished communities, preserving archaeological sites, and promoting research and education on the rich cultural heritage of Peru. MOCHE Inc.’s work over the past 20 years in Peru has demonstrated that close community ties and community-oriented projects go hand in hand with preserving archaeological sites. This project demonstrates that preventive conservation need not be narrowly construed as concerning only tasks such as managing museum and storage environments (of course very important topics on their own) but can also encompass a variety of other community engagement and education activities crucial to the goal of heritage preservation.

avatar for Jessica Walthew

Jessica Walthew

Conservator, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Jessica Walthew is an objects conservator at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She holds an MA in Art History and Archaeology with advanced certificate in Conservation from NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center. Her research and teaching interests include history... Read More →

avatar for Alicia Boswell

Alicia Boswell

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Cultures of Conservation, Bard Graduate Center/Metropolitan Museum of Art
I am an anthropological archaeologist whose research examines the dynamics of complex societies and interactions between PrenColumbian groups in different ecological zones of the Andes. My field research prioritizes examining the lived experience of household and producer communities... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston