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Iron Age goldwork as cultural heritage: building strategies for its research, conservation and social valuation in NW Spain

AuthorsArmada, Xosé-Lois ; García Vuelta, Óscar ; Perea Caveda, Alicia ; Porto Tenreiro, Yolanda
Issue DateOct-2012
CitationInternational Congress on Science and Technology for the Conservation of cultural Heritage (2012)
AbstractThe protohistoric goldwork from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula is among the most outstanding in Western Europe. However, our knowledge of it and its social appreciation have been hindered by various factors. Among them we can mention the hackneyed subject of its apparent "decontextualisation", as finds are often made by chance during farm work, as well as the burden of a tradition of investigation and conservation that considers the gold items as untouchable "works of art". As a result, the recent patrimonial history of Castro Culture goldwork is generally invariable and monotonous, with its exhibition being limited to museum display cases and with little generation of social value. In this paper we present a strategy aimed at remedying this situation. In contrast to the idea of "decontextualisation", we maintain that all contexts are significant and that in most cases it is possible to recover relevant contextual information. Secondly, we propose a "biographical" focus that takes into account all the life stages of the object, from its manufacture to the present day, including its discovery, its journey through private collections, the conservation treatments applied to it and its exhibition in a museum. To meet these needs we need to apply a strongly interdisciplinary methodology that combines, among other procedures, fieldwork, the collection of oral information, the use of archival and bibliographical sources and the application of diverse archaeometric techniques (XRF, SEM, AMS C14 dating of organic remains, the characterisation of interior fillings, etc.). This leads us finally to suggest that the best way of promoting social appreciation of Castro Culture goldwork is to integrate it into a cultural heritage value chain that links said appreciation to the work of research and conservation. Our proposal is illustrated principally through two examples studied within the framework of a research project in progress, the "treasures" of Recouso and Calvos de Randi¿n. The former consists of 16 gold earrings, 4 ingots and other smaller fragments and the latter is made up of 17 ingots.
DescriptionComunicación presentada en el International Congress on Science and Technology for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Research Advances for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage), celebrado en Santiago de Compostela del 2 al 5 de octubre de 2012.
Appears in Collections:(INCIPIT) Comunicaciones congresos
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