Dr Emily Williams is an Associate Professor in Archaeological Conservation in the Department of Archaeology.
Tell us about your role within the Department of Archaeology
I direct the Masters in the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects which focuses on how we preserve the traces of past lives through the artefacts that people used. The programme teaches students to document and interpret changes made to objects during their use life, to diagnose the causes of any deterioration and how to treat the objects to halt the deterioration and preserve them for future generations.
Tell us about your research interests / specialism within the Department of Archaeology
My research interests are in how materials deteriorate and how we can design better treatments for them. This includes how we learn from careful investigation of the objects in museum collections and these are topics that cross geographic boundaries. I’m also interested in how artefacts can help to explore the process of creating identities and understand subaltern stories.
What can international students expect from their first few weeks in the Department of Archaeology?
As an American who moved to Durham relatively recently, I know it can feel daunting and a little overwhelming to be relocating to a new place. My experience of working in the Department of Archaeology is a very warm and friendly one. People are genuinely interested in each other as well as being welcoming and supportive. There are many opportunities for you to meet both staff and students from welcome activities to a variety of outings.
What do you think makes the Department of Archaeology special?
I think Durham’s Department of Archaeology is unique in the breadth of what it covers. It is fabulous to have so many specialities all under one roof and to be able to draw on other staff members’ knowledge. From a conservation perspective, we are lucky to have great collections in the region in addition to the University’s Oriental Museum and the Museum of Archaeology. We also have remarkable craftsmen like the stonemasons at Durham Cathedral nearby to learn from.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying in the Department of Archaeology?
Recently, my students have been teasing me that my favourite phrase is “Go ahead and give it a try.” I think this advice works in a wide variety of situations whether it is testing a new treatment method, trying out a new idea or considering a new programme of study.
What have your students gone on to do after graduating from Durham?
Students from the MA in Conservation have gone onto work in a wide variety of museums and heritage organisations around the world. Some have also started their own conservation practices where they are commissioned to treat materials for private collectors.
Find out more
- Dr Emily Williams is an Associate Professor in Archaeological Conservation in the Department of Archaeology. If you would like to find out more about Emily, visit her profile.
- Our Department of Archaeology is a leading centre for the study of archaeology and ranked 8th in the world. Feeling inspired? Visit our Archaeology webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.
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