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Glossary

Accession number – a museum item number, used for identification.

Cations – positive ions.

Conservation - the protection, care, and restoration of cultural artifacts (objects, structures, landscapes, etc.,) using the minimum amount of intervention with the cultural artifact so as to retain the artifact’s cultural integrity.

Conservation scientist – a person working to preserve cultural objects by using the scientific method to evaluate the materials, environments, and treatments needed to preserve the cultural objects.

Corrosion – the oxidation of a surface or subsurface as oxygen interacts with metal. Example: Rust.

Cultural heritage – the objects that make up our past–from ancient artifacts to modern items–that are part of our culture.

Electromagnetic radiation – energy that can take the form of light, magnetism and nuclear radiation.

Exothermic – external energy is applied to a test sample.

Fluorescence – light is produced as a chemical reaction when energy is absorbed by an object.

Flux – a chemical reaction that preapareds(cleans) an area for glazes before treatment (firing).

Glaze – composition similar to materials that compose clays and include a flux that helps the glaze melt during firing; used to seal a clay body to make the vessel water tight and/or to enhance appearance.

Inclusions – any material found in a substrate that differs from the substrate. Example: pieces of bone in clay.

In situ – the place in which an object is found.

Material culture – any tangible object a culture products. Example: pots, arrowheads.

Mature – cure, becomes stable.

Morphological characteristic – physical attributes, such as color, size, etc., an object possesses that can be used to identify or date an object.

Morphology – the total description of an object based on physical characteristics.

Octahedral – having eight sides.

Parfocal – having dual focus, such as the stereo microscope.

Plasticity – the ability of an object to be shaped or formed, flexibility.

Slip – a coating.

Surface treatment – any conservation treatment that causes a change in the surface of an object.

Temper – material, such as straw, shell, bone, etc., that is used to bind the substrate or prevent breakage during the firing process.

Tetrahedral – having seven sides.

Unprovenienced – artifacts that have little or no cultural value because they are not part of the documented archaeological record, such as items dug up without proper documentation by archaeologists.

Utilitarian – an object that is used every day.

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