Hair today, gone tomorrow: the degradation and conservation of archaeological hair fibers
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The research of this work describes the degradation and conservation of archaeological hair fibers. Chapter I will be a brief overview, with Chapter II following with a literary review and definition of terms. Chapter III focuses on research centered on the structure of hair fibers and their physical and chemical attributes. It will also focus on the archaeological and historical evidence of hair fiber use by humans. This research will help form the backbone of the paper and experiments performed. The next chapter focuses on the degradation of hair fibers in different environments. Hair fibers left in underwater, open air, burial, and arid environments are monitored for degree of degradation and brittleness. The hair fiber types used are four commonly found hair fibers types: coarse wool, fine wool, mohair, and human hair. After deposition, conservation using silicone oil treatment is tested on the degraded hair fibers. When silicone oil treatment proves to be a viable conservation method, the technique is then be applied to two artifacts. The two artifacts used are a Victorian era watch fob made from human hair and hair fibers mixed with tar from the excavation of Kittern in Bulgaria. Chapter VII deals with the conclusions of the experiments as a whole. The degradation of the fibers in different environmental conditions show that burial in acidic sandy clay is the most detrimental to hair fibers, while hair fibers from arid, dry environments are brittle, but well preserved aesthetically. The silicone oil treatments are shown to be viable treatment methods with positive results for all of the fibers tested, including two artifacts, a Victorian watch fob made from human hair fibers and hair fibers mixed with a tar-like substance from the shipwreck Kittern in Bulgaria.
Sager, Rebecca M. (2008). Hair today, gone tomorrow: the degradation and conservation of archaeological hair fibers. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from