A new method of chemical treatment is proposed to improve the durability of soft, porous sandstones onto which Native American petroglyphs have been carved. Cores of Dakota Sandstone from the Faris Cave site, located along the Smoky Hill River in Ellsworth County, Kansas, were treated with ethyl silicate dissolved in a lightweight ketone carrier, and some cores were subsequently treated with a combination of ethyl silicate and silane using the same solvent. Measurement of the resulting physical properties, when compared to untreated cores, indicate the treatments substantially increased the compressive strength and freeze-thaw resistance of the stone without discoloring the stone or completely sealing the pore system. The treatment increases the durability of the stone and provides a method for preserving the petroglyphs at the site. After treating test panels at the site, the petroglyphs were treated in like manner.
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Preserving Native American petroglyphs on porous sandstone