Example Projects: Laboratory for Analysis of Cultural Materials
1. Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Ethnographic fieldwork is especially important for understanding intangible aspects of cultural heritage. Historic documents and laboratory analyses can provide hypotheses to test in the field, and observations in traditional villages and workshops may give clues about how we might interpret objects from the past. Documenting intangible cultural heritage is also crucial for preservation of past ideas and solutions to human problems, as globalization is bringing about rapid change and the disappearance of much of the world's cultural heritage.
A Bon village in the eastern Tibetan region of Amdo (Sichuan, China), and the nearby monastery of Seling (gSas ling).
Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage project files: Coming soon!
2. Thin-Section Petrography of Cultural Materials. Thin-section petrography is used to characterize and interpret stone and ceramic cultural materials. Information is obtained regarding choices in raw materials, possible location of material sources, fabrication methods, firing conditions, decorative techniques, possible functions of the object, technological style of the craftsperson or workshop, state of deterioration and possible deterioration mechanisms, and results of testing various preservation approaches. The laboratory specializes in working with contemporary methods of digital image analysis to produce quantitative data from thin-section petrography.
Thin section of an 18th-century Tibetan tsha-tsha with a sandy clay body, a thin clay slip, and a hematite pigment layer.