Sabine BRECHBÜHL / Barbara CHEVALLIER
(Archäologischer Dienst des Kantons Bern, Bern, Switzerland)
Twenty percent of the archaeological finds of Canton Bern are metallic and are therefore susceptible to rapid decay. Personnel and financial resources do not allow us to treat all artifacts excavated within a year, in an appropriate unified manner and in a given time. The duration of an archaeological process, from the excavation to the final deposition of the finds, is often long and difficult to plan and control. In order to safeguard the information potential of archaeological metal finds choices must be made. On the basis of an objective and quantified evaluation of our existing collection (type, quantity, state of objects), the type of conservation treatment carried out (first aid / passive / active conservation treatment), the existing technical infrastructure in the laboratory, and a general cost analysis, it becomes possible to define treatment priorities and selection strategies that take into account both the needs of the preservation of the artifact and those of the archaeological process. Objective scientific and economic criteria can be assessed and counterbalanced. A standardized sustainable metal conservation process can be designed and carried through.