The conservation section within the Department deals with the conservation and restoration of the majority of materials within the collection - stabilising artefacts for study and/or display both by interventive treatments and by environmental control.
There is a vast variety of artefacts ranging from waterlogged wooden structures to mosaics and fine jewellery. Some objects have been in the museum since the last century and present their own complications arising from previous treatments and storage. Other items which are derived from the Department's present excavation programme or from metal detectorists need more urgent treatment, and these often provide the opportunity for investigative cleaning and analysis.
The laboratory is equipped with a good range of optical microscopes and standard conservation equipment, as well as an industrial X-ray machine, video microscope, soxhlet and freeze drier. The type of work, and the degree to which it is undertaken is dependent on the department's current activities and requirements, e.g. the study of finds from recent excavations, or artefacts required for display either within this museum or on loan. Care of the collections also involves monitoring objects on display and in storage, and advising on showcase design and packaging. The conservation staff also undertake replica making for educational and display purposes and for other institutions.