Conservation of Previous Repairs on Archaeological Ceramics
By Emily Thomas
As ceramics conservation students on the graduate diploma programme, we were asked to survey a section of the Novium Museum's ceramic collection in storage at the Fishbourne Roman Palace Collections Discovery Centre near Chichester. This is part of an on-going project to document and repackage excavated burials from St Pancras Roman cemetery. Assessment included checking the accuracy of the current documentation, condition assessment of objects and suitability of storage conditions.
The Common Problems
Common problems found in archaeological ceramic collections, such as the Novium's, are due to failing old repairs. Deteriorating fills and weakening/yellowing adhesive can be unsightly and potentially cause more damage to the original material. With so many examples of this kind it was essential to prioritise those objects most in need of conservation. Considerations include:
- Stability of original object
- Stability of repairs
- Storage, eg. is it safer to store separate sherds or one bonded object?
- Uniqueness of object, eg. will this object be used for public display?