The Preservation Handbook Online

Table of Contents

I. Preservation
II. Assessment
III. Collection Assessment
IV. Agents of Deterioration
V. Monitoring collections
VI. Materials
VII. Storage
VIII. Conservation
IX. Disaster Planning
X. Housekeeping
XI. Resources / Suppliers
XII. Preservation Grants

Materials - textiles

Textile - introduction

Protein and cellulose based textiles are susceptible to four types of deterioration.

Textile fibers should be identified in order to ensure proper storage conditions, handling and treatment that might be needed. "Physical tests, such as burning, quickly identify the presence of animal fibers, which do not burn readily and shrivel into a residue of carbon. These fibers usually emit the distinct odor of singed hair. Vegetal fibers burn easily to a fine ash. Many fibers and hairs can also be readily identified by microscopic examination. Animal hairs, for example, can be identified by their characteristic cuticle patterns and medullar cross sections. Simple staining tests enable the conservator to distinguish between the different kinds of fibers."LI

Textile - storage

The more you handle the material the more damage you can cause. Support the cloth as much as possible when moving from place to place. To clean textiles use a low suction vacuum with a screen or nylon stocking over the brush attachment.

Textile - conservation

Documentation, both photographic and written, should record all pertinent information about the textile to be treated. The various features and properties that should be recorded:


LI Hamilton, D.L. (1998). Methods of conserving underwater archaeological material culture. Conservation Files: ANTH 605, Conservation of cultural resources I. Nautical Archaeology Program, Texa: Texas, A&M University:
Accessed January 2003 at, <>