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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
034. (Objects) NAGPRA and Conservation: Documenting Repatriation Materials from the Perspective of a Conservation Professional

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The Arizona State Museum (ASM) is a nationally recognized leader in executing legislature from the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Since 1986 the museum has repatriated more than 2,000 sets of human remains, 45,000 funerary objects, and 300 objects of cultural patrimony while receiving numerous grants to complete such projects. Prior to tribal repatriation, all objects are documented from various angles during a systematic process implemented at the Arizona State Museum. The final documentation stage is performed by members of the Preservation Division, focusing on understanding the history of the objects from the perspective of a conservation professional. This presentation discusses the established ASM protocol for conservation assessment of NAGPRA materials and how the resulting information is highly beneficial to both the museum and to tribal members. Typical documentation involves evaluating the ways in which objects were previously altered by observing if they were repaired, stabilized, labeled, or sampled. The conservation professional looks for evidence of display or prior destructive analysis while connecting visual assessment information and archived written documentation. Technical and material examination is also performed on certain objects. For example, ultraviolet illumination is used to identify the presence and types of adhesives and consolidants by fluorescence. Magnification is used to clarify identification markings and labels, and handheld x-ray fluorescence is employed to look for the presence of toxic metal-based pesticides on organic objects. Combined with documentation from photography professionals and archaeological curation, this process provides a comprehensive analysis of all NAGPRA objects and can serve as a model for incorporating conservation into the repatriation process.

avatar for Dr. Elyse Canosa

Dr. Elyse Canosa

Conservation Scientist, University of Arizona
Elyse Canosa has a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Arizona, where she participated in the Heritage Conservation Science program. During her graduate studies, Elyse worked in the Conservation Laboratory of the Arizona State Museum and engaged in numerous... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Nancy Odegaard

Dr. Nancy Odegaard

Conservator, Patronato San Xavier
Nancy is the Conservator Emerita at the Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson where she is also a Professor Emerita of Anthropology. Since 1983, she led the effort to preserve the collections of the museum through loans, exhibits, excavations, research... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm CDT
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower
  9. Poster, Objects