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JAIC 2003, Volume 42, Number 2, Article 4 (pp.

193 to 236) Página 1 de 43

JAIC 2003, Volume 42, Number 2, Article 4 (pp. 193 to 236)

THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN COLLECTION AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON. PART 2, A REVIEW
THE MFA AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES
SUSANNE GÄNSICKE, PAMELA HATCHFIELD, ABIGAIL HYKIN, MARIE SVOBODA, & C. MEI

ABSTRACT—This article (written in conjunction with Part 1) discusses the conservation of the Egyptian Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The presence of materials used in e
current treatments, which often begin with analysis of previously used materials, as their presence can significantly influence the development of a new treatment. The effects of such former
are assessed. Sections are divided by material, such as metals, ceramics, stone, wood, and organic materials, and selected examples of re-treatment are discussed.

TITRE—La collection d'antiquités égyptiennes au musée des beaux-arts (Museum of Fine Arts) de Boston. 2ème partie, une étude des traitements pratiqués antérieurement au musée et de leu
temps que le précédent) considère la conservation-restauration de la collection égyptienne au musée des beaux-arts (Museum of Fine Arts) de Boston. Les matériaux employés lors des traitem
des traitements actuels. Ceux-ci commencent souvent par l'analyse des matériaux précédemment utilisés, car leur présence peut influencer de manière significative le développement d'un nou
la préservation à long terme de la collection sont évaluées. Diverses sections discutent des différents matériaux, tel que les métaux, la céramique, la pierre, le bois et les matériaux organiques.
traités de nouveau.

TITULO—La colección de arte egipcio antiguo del Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Museo de bellas artes de Boston). Parte II, Evaluación de los tratamientos previos llezados a cavo en el MF
(escrito al tiempo con la Parte I) se discute la conservación de la colección de arte egipcio del Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—MFA (Museo de bellas artes de Boston). La presencia de materi
impacto sobre la naturaleza de los tratamientos actuales, que frecuentemente comienzan con el análisis de estos materiales utilizados previamente ya que pueden tener un gran impacto en el d
largo plazo que estos tratamientos previos pueden tener sobre la preservación de las colecciones. Las secciones se dividen de acuerdo a los materiales: metales, cerámica, piedra, madera, mat
selectos de tratamientos hechos de nuevo.

TITULO—A coleção de antigüidades egípcias do Museum of Fine Arts—MFA (Museu de Belas Artes) de Boston. Parte 2, revisão de tratamentos prévios no MFA e suas conseqüências. RE
conservação da coleção egípcia do Museum of Fine Arts (Museu de Belas Artes) de Boston. O uso de certos materiais em tratamentos anteriores teve um grande impacto na escolha dos tratam
de materiais previamente usados, uma vez que sua presença pode influenciar significativamente o desenvolvimento de um novo tratamento. Os efeitos destes tratamentos anteriores na preserv
As sessões são divididas por tipo de material, tais como: metal, cerâmica, pedra, madeira e materiais orgânicos. São apresentados exemplos selecionados de objetos tratados novamente.

1 INTRODUCTION

Over the past decades, the demand to display objects of the Egyptian Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has dramatically increased, with many national and international
have provided the opportunity to study, treat, re-treat, and mount large groups of objects. Numerous artifacts received emergency stabilization upon excavation in the field (see Part 1,
conservation followed frequently in Boston. Grouped by material class, this article examines these treatments carried out at the MFA over the latter half of the 20th century and discusses thei
a wide variety of written and oral resources, in addition to the sometimes incomplete conservation documentation, the gathered information helps us to reconstruct the treatment history of the
understanding of the current condition, as well as for the design of future treatments. The preservation of any information in itself becomes, thus, a vital element of conservation. Appendix 1
and the previous one, Part 1.

2 EARLY HISTORY OF CONSERVATION AT THE MFA: THE RESEARCH LABORATORY

Many of the excavated Egyptian artifacts needed major treatment and restoration prior to exhibition at the MFA. Alfred Lucas consulted on the stabilization of artifacts through written corres
Department from 1942 to 1957. Museum documents suggest that Dunham carried out many treatment procedures himself, such as the desalination of ceramics (Dunham 1928
and a distinguished painter who documented tomb reliefs in Giza with life-size oil paintings, was called upon to assist in large-scale restorations such as that of the colossal statue of Menkaur
restoration, which entailed re-creating missing passages based on a related sculpture in Cairo, was completed in 1935 by Smith with the help of a graduate of the Museum School, an art schoo
currently stands in the Old Kingdom Gallery, its condition virtually unchanged since the time of the 1935 restoration (figs. 1, 2).

In 1929, the British chemist William (Bill) Young was invited to Boston by MFA trustee E. P. Warren (fig. 3). Young's successful treatment of a heavily corroded bronze Aegis (
that the MFA needed a department devoted to treatment of its collections (Schur 1977). Thus the Department of Restoration, later renamed the Research Laboratory, was formally established
Laboratory, and associated with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Institute for Archaeological Research in London, Young pioneered many procedures associated with the scientific examinatio
international symposia titled, “Application of Science in the Examination of Works of Art,” the first taking place in 1958.

Dated documentation related to treatments or examinations began in 1940, although there are 205 earlier, undated records. Young's records generally state the reason for an object's being in t
copper or bronze” or “Determine authenticity,” and the procedure followed, such as “microscopic, spectrographic or visual.” The report may state: “the object is copper,” or
us know that an object was in the laboratory, and they often indicate the type of analysis. Unfortunately, they do not describe the condition or treatment of objects. More specific information
such as the Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA Bulletin), which was published beginning in 1903.

In 1968, the Murray Pease Report established guidelines for practice and a code of ethics for conservation that emphasized the importance of documentation (IIC-AG 1968
sheets introduced in 1971, which are apparently the earliest treatment reports. Some reports may be as cursory as “Standard Operating Procedure” or “SOP,” but occasionally there is more sp
Condition reports, treatment proposals, and treatment reports, as we use them today, came into use about 1981.

Merville E. Nichols, a protégé of Young, treated large parts of the collection over decades. He started his training with Young in 1947 and was associated with the Research Laboratory for m
treatment records are from Nichols, beginning in 1971, although often only “SOP.” He left an extensive collection of recipes constituting a quite unusual collection of treatment approaches an

From discussions with MFA staff who remember early conservation materials and procedures (Beale 2002; Lachevre 2002), it is believed that many materials were introduced to the museum
conservators who worked with them.

Fragments of colossal statue of Menkaure (Mycerinus) with Mary Reisner for scale,
Harvard camp, Giza. 4th Dynasty, 2532–2510 B.C. MFA 09.204. Courtesy of Harvard
University–MFA Expedition, 1907, neg. B234

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Fig. 1.

3 PAST TREATMENTS AND INFLUENCES ON CURRENT CONDITIONS

When an object is examined today to assess its condition and develop a treatment, often there is evidence of former stabilization(s) or compensation(s). Treatments frequently must address ag
consolidation, or
Restored colossal statue of Menkaure (Mycerinus) (fig. 1), with H. Perry Tunick
Hatchfield for scale, MFA Old Kingdom Gallery. 235 × 86.5 cm. Courtesy of Yosi
Pozeilov, 2002

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Fig. 2.
decomposing fill materials. As records of the previous treatments may be sketchy or even altogether lacking, analysis and identification of all previously used materials and methods may be r
extensive survey of all existing hard copies of conservation reports as well as excavation diaries and publications, early MFA Bulletins, photographs, and unpublished internal documents and
framework for future treatment and research at both the MFA and other institutions.

4 METALS

4.1 CLEANING AND REDUCTION

The history of the treatment of Egyptian metal objects at the MFA is tied to electrolytic reduction. Many objects in the collection have been cleaned by such a procedure. The condition of obj
treatment reports as being metallic, granular, pitted, etched and/or scratched, or smooth and without corrosion products. In some cases it is noted that uneven corrosion products remain. Of th
for this article, only 12 pieces were noted to retain original corrosion products, burial accretions, or pseudomorphs.

William Young

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Fig. 3.

One of the earliest treatments, published in the MFA Bulletin in 1931, is that of the 22d Dynasty
Aegis of Isis, before treatment. Third Intermediate Period, 945–712 B.C., copper-
lead alloy with inlays of electrum, silver, and bronze. 27.5 × 19.2 cm, diam. 29.3 cm.
MFA 31.195, Adelia Cotton Williams Fund. Courtesy of Harvard University–MFA
Expedition, March 1931, neg. C5968.

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Fig. 4.
copper-lead Aegis of Isis with bronze inlays (MFA 31.195; figs. 4, 5). The curator wrote:

In [acquiring the Aegis the museum] undertook an experiment not without risk, for the object was in such a bad state of preservation due to the ravages of the so-called
at. It was by no means certain how far the bronze would respond to treatment, and if it did, whether it would prove to be as fine as was anticipated. (Dunham 1931, 104)

The MFA Bulletin article described the materials and the method of fabrication, but did not elaborate on the treatment. It was noted that a gilded silver inlay of a winged figure
1931, 109), and indeed this inlay is missing today. The treatment record for the object states simply: “The object was cleaned by electrolysis.” Young later presented his treatment of the Aegi
chemists Adolf Finkener, Friedrich Rathgen, and Colin Fink, he described the reduction of ancient metals. The procedure was as follows:

Without any preliminary cleaning, the object to be treated is hung as Cathode into a 2 per cent caustic soda solution and low amperage direct current is applied. Very low current densit
wrapped around the object, one or two turns per inch, and electrical connections are made with the ends of the wire. The action of the electrolysis is to evolve hydrogen at the Cathode a
copper. (Young 1963, 5)

Aegis of Isis (fig. 4), after treatment. Note missing silver disc,“too corroded to be
saved.” Courtesy of Harvard University–MFA Expedition, October 1931, neg. C6117

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Fig. 5.

Young also mentioned the use of iron, nickel, and platinum anodes. When the reduction was completed, the object was “removed from the bath, soaked in several changes of hot water to rem
oven at 40 to 60 degrees centigrade” (Young 1963, 6).

This method was passed on to Nichols. Electrolytic reduction continued to be used for the treatment of copper and its alloys, silver, gilded silver, electrum, lead, and iron until the early 1980s
instructions expand upon the basic method outlined above. Before reduction was undertaken, an object might be examined with x-radiography, ultraviolet illumination, or metallographic sect
for ancient or modern restorations. The object would undergo prolonged soaking in a series of solvents (toluene, hot water, alcohol, and acetone), and coatings, restoration materials, and any
conductivity were mechanically removed. Lead-tin or zinc-tin solder repairs were removed with a soldering iron. The object was then soaked in a bath of 2% sodium hydroxide to remove rem
(Nichols noted that this bath will also dissolve silver chloride and cautioned that the object may turn to mud if totally corroded). Finally, various mixtures of hydrochloric and formic acids we
conductivity of the metal (Nichols n.d.).

For tank reduction, fragile objects might be supported on a bronze screen. For local reduction of silver, the cathode was a graphite rod. The anode was a sponge pierced with a graphite rod an
be used, one containing sodium bicarbonate (to remove silver sulfide), the other containing 2% sodium hydroxide (to remove silver chloride and to “harden” the corrosion material for remov
current was reversed to oxidize the silver, turning it black, at which point the black surface would be cleaned with ethanolamine on cotton swabs to remove redeposited copper oxides, carbon
along with brushing under hot running water and the use of a scalpel. Finally, the piece was “electro-polished” using sodium bicarbonate paste and soaked in distilled water until the pH was n

Object files mention removal of redeposited copper with ethanolamine, as mentioned above. Redeposited copper was also disguised by bronzing with sodium hydroxide paste and iron oxide
tools.

One of the primary reasons for the early stripping of bronzes was to rid them of chloride that causes bronze disease (Beale 1996). MFA records also state the following goals: to remove corro
inscriptions. By the early 1980s notes in files begin to reflect ethical conflicts with such treatments, and reduction is now rarely used at the MFA. Its use on Egyptian artifacts in recent years h
and aluminum foil for removal of remains of corrosion products from previously reduced objects.

Metals that have been reduced or stripped have often required re-treatment in later years due to tarnishing or corrosion of reactive, bright metal and the removal or renewal of protective coatin
noted with a few chemically cleaned objects is corrosion connected with residual chemicals leaching out of the metal.

4.2 BRONZE DISEASE

Forty years after the initial treatment of the Aegis of Isis, it was treated for bronze disease. The worksheet states: “SOP bronze disease” and lists the locations of the bronze disease but gives n
treatment of bronze disease was a solution of silver nitrate, which he fixed in place with heat (Beale 1996). And indeed as late as 1983 areas of bronze disease were treated on another Egyptia
needle and applying silver nitrate solution, although no mention was made of using heat. Nichols's “Standard Operating Procedure” may refer to his mentor's methods, or he may have used ot
disease first appears in object files in 1986, but it may have been in use at the MFA much earlier. Benzotriazole is currently the standard treatment for bronze disease at the MFA, often in com

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followed by coating with Paraloid B-72 (formerly Acryloid B-72), and a recommendation that the object be stored and displayed in a desiccated environment. Silver oxide paste has also been
reexamined for a reinstallation in 2001 and found to be in good and stable condition.

4.3 OTHER METHODS OF CLEANING

Metal artifacts were also cleaned mechanically with glass brushes, brass scratch brushes, a scalpel, or wooden tools. Mirrors and knife blades were routinely polished with a succession of we
µm alumina powder. Not surprisingly, later condition reports note that the surfaces are covered with fine scratches, some discolored.

Silver objects in the Egyptian Collection have also been cleaned with 5% ammonia;with 5% or 10% nitric acid, or with 5% sulfuric acid. Nichols's recipe file includes a solution of Orvus det
metals, although no reference to this solution's being used on the Egyptian Collection has been found.

4.4 RESHAPING, REFORMING, AND REPAIRS

During excavation in the Sudan in 1919, the 25th Dynasty bronze offering table of King Piye (MFA 21.3238) was found crushed in a stairway where it had fallen during an ancient plunderin
this object was often cited by Young and others (fig. 8; Young n.d., 1958; Dunham 1958). The curator described the treatment to “restore the parts to their original forms by repeated shaping
corroded away have been patched with new material and one of the rim-cups is a modern copy; but in all other respects the piece is original” (Dunham 1958, 99).

Top of offering table of King Piye, as found, el-Kurru Camp. Nubian, Napatan
Period, 8th century B.C., bronze. MFA 21.3238. Courtesy of Harvard University–
MFA Expedition, April 1919, neg. C8831

Fig. 6.

Base of offering table of King Piye (fig. 6), as found. Courtesy of Harvard University–
MFA Expedition, April 1919, neg. C8830

Fig. 7.

Excavation photographs show all four rim cups, and it is uncertain why one needed to be replaced. Young wrote that reduction was necessary before the piece could be annealed and reshaped
base was supported with an internal armature of thick copper wire. The piece was coated after treatment (see sec. 4.7 for a discussion of coatings).

Gold and silver objects were also annealed and reshaped. The surfaces would then be polished to 0.3 µm alumina to remove annealing discoloration. One object treated in this fashion in 1981
Offering table of King Piye (figs. 6, 7), restored. Height of foot after treatment 82

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cm, diam. 45.5 cm. Courtesy of Harvard University–MFA Expedition, 1948, neg.
C13267

Fig. 8.
Nubian gold ewer (MFA 20.341).

Solder repairs have been found on the offering table mentioned above as well as on some other bronze and gold pieces from the Sudan. In some cases, such as a set of gilded silver cylinder sh
21.11742; Gänsicke and Newman 2000), modern solder repairs extend over original decorative surfaces. Shellac, plaster, and unidentified water-soluble white adhesives have also been found

Nichols's reports from the 1970s and 1980s commonly mention repairs done with Elmer's Glue-All, often with a backing of thick mulberry paper. Losses were filled with a mixture of Elmer's
sometimes used in place of paper as a backing. Repairs were also made with epoxy and aluminum powder. Plaster fills have also been found on objects, although there is no written documen
(PVAC) was used as a coating and an adhesive in the 1980s and probably earlier.

Corrosion associated with old repairs has been one reason for retreatment. Turquoise, green, and blue corrosion products found adjacent to old repairs on copper and bronze objects have been
been identified, analysis of some of these corrosion products has found formate and acetate salts.

Current practice is for repairs and fills to be made with acrylic adhesives, usually Paraloid B-72 or B-48N, often in combination with glass microballoons, cellulose powder, and/or lens tissue

4.5 REPATINATION

The stripped surfaces of copper alloy artifacts that had been treated by reduction apparently required repatination in at least some instances, although there is no written documentation in the
figure of Sekhmet (MFA 86.246) and patches of bright yellow-green in pits below the original surface on a bronze foot (MFA 24.896) suggest that these pieces have been chemically repatina
with curatorial requests provides other indirect evidence that such procedures were sometimes carried out. Regarding a bronze knife (MFA 20.1799), a 1977 request was: “
now has a bare metal surface that would not seem to have been repatinated after stripping. Regarding a bronze bell (MFA 24.857), a 1979 request states:“Clean and repatinate.
indeed repatinated.

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Toning down stripped surfaces without chemical repatination was done with the application of jewelers' rouge over the stripped surface of a copper jug (MFA 01.7312) and with
some plaque reliefs (MFA 24.1062, 24.1065). Nichols's recipe file includes instructions for toning down overcleaned silver coins with 5% silver nitrate and heat, although this procedure does

4.6 INPAINTING

Early treatment reports mention inpainting with shellac and dry pigments, PVAC and dry pigments, as well as with bronze powder, silver conductor paint, Aquadag silver contact paint, or a c
objects, presumably to enhance contrasts of designs, and whiting has been used for the same purpose. Acrylic emulsion paints have been the primary inpainting media for toning fills since the
found of inpainting on metals themselves.

4.7 COATINGS

Most of the metal artifacts that have been retreated were previously coated and these coatings were often pigmented. In 1999 ceresine wax and beeswax coatings were identified and removed
mentioned in Part 1 of this article (Gänsicke et al. 2003).

PVAC was widely used as a coating for metals up until about 1980. In the mid-1960s Young instated a campaign of coating ancient metals with PVAC (PVA-AYAF) due to a rash of sulfide
file described mixing up PVAC “syrup” by dissolving the solid PVAC pellets in hot toluene over a double boiler and then adding small amounts of alcohol, Cellosolve, and ethylene dichlorid
72, applied in a mixture of toluene, methylethyl ketone, and Cellosolve. Incralac, carnauba wax, and microcrystalline wax have been used to coat a few metal artifacts in recent years, sometim
generally applied in a mixture of acetone and ethanol, is currently virtually the only coating used.

A review of treatment records has shown that coatings (likely to be PVAC, but generally not identified) frequently had to be removed within 10 years of application. Reactive, reduced metal
either to uneven application or to disruption or breakdown of the coating. Such cases necessitated further cleaning of the surfaces, either with ethanol on cotton swabs or with abrasives such a
offering table of King Piye discussed above, we have chosen not to recoat an object rather than to risk further uneven corrosion.

4.8 MODERN CORROSION

When the Aegis of Isis was treated in 1972 Nichols wrote: “Suspect the very start of black disease.” This is a reference to copper sulfide corrosion that would have been caused by exposure t
above, and which occasionally can be observed on other bronzes in the collection. The corrosion on the Aegis does not seem to have worsened since then. Red coloration or reddish surface fi
been identified as gold silver sulfide in some cases. (See Frantz and Schorsch 1990 for a discussion of red gold.) Tarnishing of silver continues to be a problem in some of the galleries.

Other corrosion induced by the storage or display materials includes formates and acetates found on a group of copper objects in 1993. Basic lead carbonates have been found on lead objects
the aid of solvents.

4.9 REPRODUCTIONS

Reproductions have been made to represent some fragmentary objects. An electrotype or electroform of one of the silver Heterpheres bracelets, made by Young in 1947, shows the complete
52.1837), although some aspects of the reconstruction are now known to be incorrect.

Molds have also been taken and electrotypes made for replacement of missing elements. Silver claws on a set of anklets from the Middle Kingdom (MFA 21.984–.85) “were too fragile to res
made electrotypes from a cut-down mold of the larger pendants, and these were substituted in the present stringing” (Eaton 1941, 97).

Finally, a number of molds were taken of objects in the Egyptian Collection for reproduction for sale in the museum shop and in some instances for the private use of friends or scholars of th

5 CERAMICS, FAIENCE, AND GLASS

Documentation of early treatment procedures at the MFA is scarce for ceramics, faience, and glass objects, possibly in part because these categories of artifacts were not as valued as the more
Although records improved considerably after about 1970, they often do not include much detail on the nature of earlier restoration materials for objects that were being retreated or the speci
treatments. Statements that, for example, old unsightly repairs were reversed with water narrow down the possibilities of what materials might have been used in earlier treatments. More info
when wetted.

Almost all reviewed files for ceramics and faience involve the re-treatment of previously treated artifacts. In most cases the reasons for the re-treatment of ceramics and faience given in objec
and pulling up of ceramic, darkening, and staining. In many instances where shellac, PVAC emulsion, or the more unusual sealing wax repairs were used, complete reversal was nearly impos
Paraloid B-72, is now introduced into the breaks for reinforcement.

Up to this point in time, only a fraction of the ceramic, faience, and glass artifacts have been treated in any manner since arriving at the MFA, and future examinations will considerably incre
have been carried out on those artifacts.

5.1 DESALINATION

Groups of objects that were excavated from the same trench usually exhibit similar states of preservation today, probably related mainly to the salt content of their burial environment. The rec
treatments that appear to have been common in the field, and treatments were required at the MFA also. In 1928 Dunham wrote to George A. Reisner that ceramics required salt extraction up
treatments himself (Dunham 1928). Desalination campaigns, in some cases more than one on the same object, continue up to the present. Efflorescence has been the result of fluctuating relat
consequence of conditions during travel for loans.

The salt problem for some of the MFA Egyptian ceramics may have been aggravated or even made worse by the 1920 fire on board a steamer bound for Boston from Port Said, Egypt. Crates
months afterward.

An example of a piece that has suffered from salts is a Predynastic terracotta figurine (MFA 04.1803; fig. 9; D'Auria et al. 1988), part of an excavated group purchased for the museum in 190
condition, a result of salt efflorescence in addition to having been broken and repaired. The surface of this artifact has a dark saturated “skin” from a previous consolidation treatment. Howev
caused delamination of the consolidated surface layer, the interior is powdery and light in color. Thicker areas of locally applied adhesives are also visible: one is opaque and white, another d
are no records, were presumably performed to prevent the salt activity from completely destroying the artifact. Desalination was apparently never attempted, possibly because of the object's f

Predynastic terracotta figurine, Nagada II, 3670 B.C., ceramic, 18.6 × 9.0 cm, diam.
6.3 cm. MFA 04.1803. Courtesy of Marie Svoboda, 2001

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Fig. 9.

5.2 CLEANING

A fairly standard treatment for ceramic and faience objects was washing in Calgon and immersion in acid solutions, such as hydrochloric acid, to remove lime deposits. Documentation indica
procedures and that silver nitrate tests were performed on the wash water to determine when all traces of chlorides had been removed. No adverse effects from these treatments have been not

5.3 CONSOLIDATION AND REPAIRS

A survey of treatment records indicates that shellac was the adhesive of choice until 1975; pearl glue and Alvar were mentioned by senior staff as further choices. Other adhesives listed in ea
Dekadhese (DEK). Elmer's Glue-All was used primarily in the 1970s and early 1980s; generally PVAC resins were used extensively until the mid-1980s. Paraloid B-72 became the adhesive
commonly used adhesive.

Beadwork reconstruction continues to be performed today at the MFA. Restringing is based on the research conducted on preserved fragments, field notes, photographs, drawings, and/or sim
obtained from this investigation, in addition to studying the accurately restrung objects by Mary Reisner, has enabled MFA staff to restring beadwork objects using techniques similar to those

Ultraviolet examination of the Predynastic figurine, previously mentioned, showed three different adhesives on its surface (fig. 10; see page 245 for color image). Analysis of samples indicat
containing glue. This treatment darkened the surface and apparently did little to consolidate the flaking terracotta due to its poor penetration. The thin surface “skin” that resulted from this tre
activity. Shellac, identified in isolated areas, may have been used to touch up holes made for samples taken for thermoluminescence dating. Another adhesive was mysteriously applied to ran
breast, and proper right foot. This thickly applied material was identified as a mixture of sucrose (from cane sugar or honey), lactose (from a milk product), oils or fats (which could also be fr
Protein was also detected in this sample but may be contamination from the earlier consolidation campaign. Such complex adhesives were not uncommon during the midto late 19th century,
readily available at the time (Fishman 1986).

A large ceramic artifact that underwent significant re-treatment is a coffin from Naukratis (Tell el-Yahudiya), dated to ca.1292–1075 B.C., that was excavated in 1888 (MFA 88.1041). The co
Predynastic terracotta figurine (fig. 9), photographed under ultraviolet
illumination. Courtesy of Marie Svoboda, 2001 (see page 245 for color image)

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Fig. 10.
among a large group of other ceramics coffins in a cemetery, almost all of which had been damaged by grave robbers interested in their contents (Griffith 1890). In the field, the ceramic had
staples reinforced with plaster (fig. 11). A photograph from 1909 shows the ceramic coffin still in its field-assembled condition (fig. 12; fourth coffin from right). The repairs failed over the y
addition to corrosion of the iron pins that resulted in expansion of the plaster, so that when it was requested for a new installation in 1998 it was in an unstable, fragmentary condition. The 19
and pins, with the aid of water. The old shellac was reduced with ethanol poultices, which softened the adhesive, followed by mechanical removal. Staining was reduced by repeated poulticin
reassembled using Paraloid B-72, bulked with microballoons in areas with gaps (fig. 13). Due to the object's weight and the decision to display it upright, strips of fiberglass cloth adhered to
strengthen the joins, and a supportive mounting system was developed.

5.4 FILLS AND INPAINTING

The fill composition most commonly noted in earlier object files consisted of a mixture of plaster and protein glue. Elmer's Glue-All replaced the latter in the 1970s. There are recipes for a
substance has yet to be identified on ceramic or faience artifacts. Inpainting over plaster fills using dry pigments and shellac was the preferred method from the 1950s until the 1980s.

A faience hippopotamus statuette (MFA 51.8) from the Middle Kingdom was featured in an article in the MFA Bulletin in December 1951. The article
Pottery coffin, during treatment. Naukratis (Tell el-Yahudiya), 1292–1075 B.C., ceramic. MFA 88.1041. Courtesy of Nina Vinogradsk

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Fig. 11.
notes that it was in a poor state of preservation when acquired and that it had been skillfully restored by Young and his assistants: “what little restoration has been done in plaster is carefully o
Today this pioneering repair remains stable and visually integrated. A similar philosophy is followed today. For example, the Hetepheres ceramics that were restored in the field were recently
Compensation of losses on the artifacts was intentionally made to appear as well-defined, reattached fragments in order to maintain visual integrity and structural stability without misleading

Coffins lined up outside the Museum of Fine Arts in 1909. The ceramic coffin still in its field-assembled condition is the fourth coffin from the right. C
Fine Arts, Boston, 1909

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Fig. 12.

Not all re-treatments are successful or straightforward, and the course to be followed is not always clear. In the case of the Predynastic figurine, it is apparent that the salt problem requires ad
any further action. Additional consolidation treatment may be inhibited by the presence of earlier treatment materials and could further compromise the condition of the object in the long term
consolidation materials available today and their potential interactions with materials used in the past, treatment decisions can be made that will pose less risk to the artifacts if they are re

6 STONE

6.1 CLEANING

It is clear that stone artifacts were cleaned early in the history of the museum, but specific cleaning methods prior to the 1970s are undocumented. During the 1970s, stains were typically rem
of Calgon, followed by a mixture of equal parts of methylene chloride and ethylene glycol. Poultices of attapulgite clay mixed with organic solvents were also used for stain removal. Dilute h
calcareous encrustations from sandstone.

Granite statuary may have been polished with a mixture of water, Calgon, and a silica-based polishing compound, although it is unclear if this technique was specifically used on Egyptian gra
have been used on the collection.

Dry-cleaning techniques, such as eraser crumbs and chemical sponges, as well the use of alcohol, acetone, and emulsions of nonpolar solvents with limited water, became preferred methods o

Pottery coffin (fig. 11), after treatment. Courtesy of Nina Vinogradskaya, 1998

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Fig. 13.

6.2 DESALINATION

There is no clear evidence that porous stone artifacts were desalinated in the field or in the museum in the early 20th century. However, desalination of stone of limestone and sandstone was p
the literature (Petrie 1904; Lucas 1932).

Sandstone and limestone sculptures were desalinated by aqueous immersion in the 1970s, although details, such as length of immersion and quantity of water, were not recorded. Desalination
using a silver nitrate spot test. On some occasions, treatment records indicate that desalination was ended prematurely due to pigment loss and/or structural damage to limestone. Poultices of
from limestone and sandstone. Apparently in a response to problems that arose from soaking, stone artifacts were tested for the presence of water-sensitive mineral inclusions prior to desalina
immersion is not performed on stone artifacts, and attempts to reduce soluble salt activity are made through management of the environment.

Although water immersion of stone artifacts had the significant benefit of reducing soluble salts, one of the primary factors of stone decay, the process could significantly jeopardize the struc
surface decoration. Immersion of the Nefermaat and Atet limestone relief fragments (MFA Eg. Inv. 40; Petrie 1892) in the 1970s caused swelling of clay deposits, internal cleavage, and, poss
grant from the National Endowment for the Arts funded investigations into the mineral composition of the stone as well as potential consolidation with silanes, acrylic resins, or a mixture of t
lack of a totally satisfactory treatment procedure, treatment was postponed. Currently, treatment of this important relief is being reconsidered. Due to advancements in the engineering of struc
addressed through a detachable mounting system that surrounds and supports the fragments individually. Delamination and flaking of the surface will be consolidated with Paraloid B
environment are considered critical for the long-term well-being of the reliefs.

6.3 CONSOLIDATION

Review of museum records clearly demonstrates that the primary challenge of stone conservation over the last century has been the treatment and subsequent re-treatment of unstable stone su
on limestone and sandstone artifacts due to the presence of soluble salts and/or poor cementation of particles. Additional internal structural problems may arise from cracking along bedding p
and intergranular cleavage, the latter a condition most commonly observed in granite. Attempts to stabilize these conditions through impregnation with various adhesives have had mixed suc
not mandatory, for short-term preservation, but in many other cases consolidation has proven to be detrimental for long-term stability.

Wax, shellac, and natural resins have been identified as early consolidants of limestone and sandstone artifacts. Possibly some of these treatments were carried out in the field. Cellulose nitra
the museum into the 1970s, particularly to consolidate pigmented limestone and sandstone surfaces prior to desalination.

PVAC resin was the favored stone consolidant in the 1970s. A dilute solution, usually in toluene, was routinely used on sandstone and limestone, both as consolidant for actively spalling surf
did not yet show signs of salt efflorescence. Nubian granite statues and stelae that showed delamination and networked cracking were stabilized with thicker concentrations of PVAC, which a
All was also used as a stone consolidant. Sometime in the history of the museum, flour-based wallpaper paste was also used to consolidate flaking limestone and sandstone artifacts. Finally, s
limestone reliefs.

During the 1980s and 1990s, many new materials were investigated as possible stone consolidants. Vacuum impregnation of poorly cemented sandstone with Paraloid B-72 was implemented
monomer, polymerized in situ with ultraviolet radiation, was used to consolidate sandstone in the early 1980s. In the later 1980s, in response to the lack of information on the consolidation of
(Mangum 1986) on the consolidation of a pigmented Meroitic sandstone triad (MFA 21.11808). Methyl triethoxy silane was chosen as a consolidant for the poorly cemented sandstone sculpt
with gelatin. In 1992, after extensive consideration and testing, ethyl silicate was successfully used to consolidate a monumental Nubian sandstone coffin bench and chapel wall (MFA 23.868
consolidated with methyl methacrylate monomer.

Consolidation with materials favored earlier, such as shellac, natural resins, and wax, has caused notable darkening of surfaces, a condition that often warrants their later removal. Wax has th
applied thickly forms an impermeable layer, which causes further structural decay with the onset of soluble salt activity.

Over time, cellulose nitrate typically takes on a dark gray appearance and, if applied heavily, forms a thick, glossy layer that has a tendency to delaminate as the result of shrinkage and/or sol
soluble in many polar organic solvents, its removal is complicated by the presence of original pigment, which can be disrupted by dissolution of the resin and mechanical action. Similar prob
wallpaper paste.

The bust of Prince Ankhhaf (MFA 27.442; Bolshakov 1991), a lifelike portrait composed of painted gypsum applied over carved limestone, illustrates the ongoing struggles with cellulose nit
among Reisner, Smith, and Dunham in 1927, two years after the bust was excavated, reveals that Lucas had consolidated the bust with celluloid in Egypt (fig. 14). By April 1927 the bust had
presumably prior to Lucas's consolidation. The bust came to Boston in the summer of 1927, and shortly after its arrival was placed in a case with deliquescent salts as an effort to curb soluble
that year, Dunham noted that the “celluloid coat has been lifted in small patches and bubbles, together with the surface layers of the paint” (fig. 16; Dunham 1927). He attributed this conditio
occurred before the bust was placed in the desiccated environment. He noted that the surface appeared shiny and called “the celluloid coating a mistake.” It is possible that the condition of th
celluloid (i.e. too strong a solution or too many coats of a dilute solution) on certain painted objects, especially tempera paintings on clay plaster, may cause the paint to crack and to become r
surface” (Lucas 1932, 42–43).

Bust of Prince Ankhhaf, condition after excavation. Giga, Mastaba tomb G 7510, 4th
Dynasty, 2555–2532 B.C., painted plaster, limestone, height 50.48 cm. MFA 27.442.
Courtesy of Harvard University–MFA Expedition, 1925, neg. B5609

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Fig. 14.

By the summer of 1938, the celluloid coating had begun to peel. Young reduced the coating, apparently without disruption of the underlying pigment, and designed the first documented micr
of the display case (fig. 17), circulated internal air over a tray of calcium chloride. The humidity was lowered from 60 to 30% RH, where it remained for some time. The bust has required min
remarkably stable under current gallery conditions.

Over the past 30-plus years, PVAC coatings have remained easily reversible and have not significantly discolored. Exudation of the resin under elevated temperatures has been observed on h
(MFA 23.736). This object had been consolidated with 18.9 liters of PVAC in the 1970s due to severe internal cracking.

Bust of Prince Ankhhaf (fig. 14), overpainted. Courtesy of Harvard University–MFA


Expedition, 1927, neg. A4651

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Fig. 15.

Some other efforts to consolidate Egyptian stone have been problematic. Approximately 10 years after a set of sandstone relief blocks (MFA 24.1793) were consolidated with methyl methacr
(unpolymerized monomer) were visible along the sides of the blocks, and white residues, possibly tidelines of resin, were noted in many areas. External surfaces were reportedly stable, while
stabilization. Reconsolidation with ethyl silicate 10 years later was not apparently adversely affected by the presence of monomer remaining from the earlier treatment.

6.4 RECONSTRUCTION

Museum practices for mending stone artifacts appear to have paralleled those used in the field. Mucilage, animal glue, and plaster were most likely used as adhesives until the introduction of
the use of shellac and cellulose nitrate to mend joins has been found on a surprisingly low number of Egyptian stone artifacts in the museum's collection.

Detail of bust of Prince Ankhhaf (figs. 14, 15), showing curling celluloid and overpaint.
Courtesy of © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, fall 1927

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Fig. 16.

PVAC resin came into use as an adhesive in the 1970s. At this time epoxy and polyester resins were reserved for structural joins of large stone pieces, many of which were pinned with brass
Dekadhese and Hydro-Stone mixed with Elmer's Glue-All for structural mends. In the 1980s, Paraloid B-72 and Paraloid B-48N began to replace PVAC for mending small artifacts. The prac
application of polyester or epoxy resins was also adopted during this time. By the early 1990s, the employment of stainless steel pins and structural epoxies for joining or mounting large ston

Bust of Prince Ankhhaf (figs. 14–16), installed in gallery with environmental


controls. Courtesy of © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1939, neg. A7417

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Fig. 17.

Artifacts mended with mucilage, animal glues, and barium sulfate cement have usually required retreatment. Mucilage and animal glue tended to shrink and become brittle. The barium sulfat
it has retained its strength and cohesion, but in others it has weakened and begun crumbling. Due to its resistance to water, acid, and organic solvents, this cement is extremely difficult to soft
treatment option for reversal.

Plaster and Hydro-stone are the most commonly encountered fill materials. Wax was used to restore translucent calcite (Egyptian alabaster) vessels and statuary, probably in the first quarter o
as well as with plaster has been identified on some artifacts.

In the mid-1990s, a thermoplastic mixture composed of PVAC, ethylene acrylic acid copolymers, and antioxidants (Gänsicke and Hirx 1997) was used as a fill material for translucent stones
transition temperature, slumping of large fills has occurred, and its use is now reserved for small, shallow fills. Currently, bulked Paraloid B-72 fills and detachable epoxy fills are common ch

6.5 COATING

At some point in the history of the MFA, several of the stone masterpieces sculpted from graywacke were coated, possibly in preparation for mold-making in 1942 (see below). The large
(MFA 11.1738; Reisner 1931) and the smaller triad of King Menkaure (Mycerinus), Hathor, and the Hare Nome (MFA 09.200) both have a thin coating of an acetone-soluble resin that may b

In the case of the triad, the coating is discontinuous due to wear and handling and has developed a cloudy, whitish appearance in some areas. Surface cleaning can be done only with water du
can be accomplished with acetone but is complicated by the presence of original pigments, which in part have been consolidated by the resin. Additionally, the saturated appearance of the scu
change as a result of reduction of the coating. Due to these considerations and the overall stability of the sculpture, no re-treatment has been carried out.

6.6 MOUNTING AND INSTALLATION

Up until the mid-1960s, wall reliefs were installed by stacking individual blocks on top of each other, typically held together with mortar or plaster and supported by a wooden frame and bric
also set into walls with bricks, mortar, plaster, and/or Portland cement, often without a moisture barrier. In several cases, the backs of large reliefs were removed in order to reduce weight and
89.557, 90.235) were installed after “useless granite” was sawed from their backs (Whitehill 1970, 283).

In response to rigorous exhibition schedules and a need for more portable mounting systems, new approaches to the installation of large-scale stone artifacts were developed in the 1980s. Fre
support blocks individually are now used instead of immobile installations. The reconstruction of the Koptos Gateway (MFA 24.1632–33;Thomas 1995), a monumental Ptolemaic gateway co
scale mount to be designed in consultation with a structural engineer. The project, initiated in the early 1990s in preparation for a three-venue traveling exhibit, required a portable mount that
earthquake zone. Since this time, collaboration with structural engineers on the design of portable earthquake mounts has become standard practice in the treatment of large

6.7 REPLICAS

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In the spring of 1942, due to a growing threat of attacks on Boston by German U-boats, significant pieces in the collection, such as the bust of Ankhhaf and the pair statue of King Menkaure
replaced with plaster replicas produced by the Conservation Department (MFA 1944). The composition of plaster and the painting techniques were documented, but the mold
that the mold-making process was the impetus for coating both the pair statue of King Menkaure and a Queen and the triad of King Menkaure, Hathor, and the Hare Nome.

The sale of replicas in the museum shop became popular during the 1970s and 1980s. Treatment notes by Nichols indicate that Egyptian limestone objects were brushed with petroleum jelly
The petrolatum, applied primarily to prevent staining from silicone oil, was then reduced with hexane. In the 1980s, Paraloid B-72 replaced petroleum jelly as an isolating layer. Mold
silicone rubber trapped within fine crevices have been documented.

7 WOOD

7.1 EARLY TREATMENT AT THE MFA

The treatment of specific wooden objects at the MFA is largely undocumented before about 1985. An indication of earlier treatments can be gleaned from Nichols's recipe for a
chloride, ethylene glycol, methanol, and hexane, with ammonia and soap, followed by a 50:50 solution of ammonia in water, and finally ethanol. Wood was also cleaned with a mixture of Ca
resin, which was prepared by heating in toluene. Elmer's Glue-All was used as an adhesive and sometimes as a coating. Pearl glue was also used as an adhesive, to which thymol, plaster, whi
combination sometimes being referred to as “compo.” A gesso for the repair of wooden figures included whiting and hide glue (pearl glue). Soluble nylon was also prepared for use on pigme

The 5th Dynasty statue of Metjetjy from Saqqara (MFA 47.1455) was treated by Young after its arrival at the museum in 1948. Deep cracks in the wood were recorded (Bothmer 1948
distracting. A number of objects entering the collection from private hands had been altered before arrival at the MFA, usually to make them more transportable. For example, an 18th Dynast
with an original varnish had been sawn in half; a piano hinge had been put in the middle so it could be transported or stored more easily, but unfolded for viewing. This device was subsequen
and the losses around the middle were filled. Other coffins were substantially reduced in size, presumably to make them easier to display. In such instances, current questions of how much re

Although the application of wax in the field undoubtedly preserved many objects that would otherwise not have survived the rigors of travel, some objects clearly suffered from such treatmen
attracting dirt and causing streaking. Disrupted surfaces remained lifted, and although immobilized, they were not readhered to substrates and so remained inherently unstable. Other early tre
materials such as gelatin sometimes stained surfaces. PVAC resins and emulsions left glossy or milky films, were difficult to remove, and contracted, pulling painted surfaces away from the s
these materials led to the development of new fill materials and treatment methods that are less intrusive.

7.2 CURRENT APPROACHES TO TREATMENT AT THE MFA

The wet-cleaning of polychromed surfaces (often with saliva) was replaced with dry methods such as kneaded artists' erasers, then vinyl eraser crumbs. Wax was removed from surfaces using
were used to drive excess wax deeper into the wood or replaced with dilute solutions of acrylic resins in compatible solvents (Hatchfield and Koestler 1987).

In some objects treated early in the history of the MFA collection, damage can be observed where wood was infiltrated by adjacent water-bearing plaster fills or other restoration. These plaste
color and saturation of polychromed areas. They were also often heavier and stronger than original materials and were intractable and difficult to remove. In addition, treatment with alkaline
associated areas of wood within a very short period of time (Blanchette et al. 1994). For this reason, filling materials that do not contain calcium carbonate or sulfate or involve water have be

Polychromed wood in the MFA collection, which had been treated with cellulose nitrate, animal glue, and PVAC emulsions, show contracted, curled, and flaking paint surfaces. Even in the c
remained fragile because they were separated from the substrates. Although more recently the use of water-based consolidants such as gelatin provided the possibility to soften and re
resulted in staining and tended to dissolve the poorly bound paint and gesso layers before they could be re-adhered. Over the past 15 years, the use of cellulose ethers such as Klucel G as prec
provided improvements in re-adhering polychromy to substrates without damage or discoloration and maintained the possibility of later re-treatment should it become necessary. Hand
cellulose ethers for visual integration of polychromed surfaces (Hatchfield 1988). Plaster-based fill materials have also been largely replaced with glass microballoons in acrylic resins such as
fills for fragile and sensitive objects (fig. 18) (Hatchfield 1986). Paper pulp–based fills have been used as well (Podany et al. 1995).

Among the most important of the wood artifacts are the coffins of Djehutynakht (called the Bersha coffins) (MFA 20.1822) and tomb models from the tomb of Djehutynakht. Although probl
after excavation (see Part 1, Gänsicke et al. 2003), no treatment record for the Bersha coffins were found between their arrival at the MFA and 1984. However, the coffin panels were installed
1960s. The lid did not appear to have been treated, but the east panel had been treated with hide glue and an ethanol-soluble resin, PVAC. The ends had been consolidated with a milky white
identified on the surface of the coffin, presumably having formed in the tomb. In 1984 areas of raised cleavage were softened
A microballoon-acrylic resin fill material is used to substitute for the severely
deteriorated wood interior of the shawabti of Huy. Provenance unknown, New
Kingdom, 19th–20th Dynasties, 1293–1070 B.C., polychromed wood, height 23.5
cm. MFA 72.4902, Hay Collection, Gift of C. Granville Way, 1872. Courtesy of
Pamela Hatchfield, 1986

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Fig. 18.
with a commercial paint stripper containing methylene chloride; then a dilute solution of CM Bond-4 was applied and the cleavage was flattened. Varnish was removed with ethanol and meth
damp swabs. Due to their inaccessibility, the coffins have not been examined since the 1984 treatment.

Since the mid-1980s, many of the tomb models have been treated with cellulose ethers and tissue paper fills for exhibitions, loans, and gallery installations. In the summers of 1992 and 2000,
in Cairo, matched missing parts and conducted stabilization treatments of the polychromed models from the tomb of Djehutynakht using methods based on those now applied to similar artifa
Paraloid resins and microballoons; and Plexisol B 597 5% in toluene and trichloroethane. During reconstructions following excavation, component parts of the tomb models were sometimes
lasted for many years. This was the case with the Bersha Procession, which was reconstructed in 1941 and again in 1987, in preparation for the exhibition Mummies and Magic
identified fragments found in storage, produced a new and more accurate reconstruction. Attributes such as the mirror case were definitively placed based on the presence of remains of origin
elements (such as a table) were identified, correctly located, and restored with balsa wood.

The Henettawy coffin treated with wax in the field had undergone some reconstruction with hide glue while at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1925. At some point, the coffin had also be
no records have been found describing this treatment. Leaking steam pipes in storage caused further damage during the late 1970s or early 1980s, although the damage was less than it might
consolidated. Nevertheless, the coffin required treatment in 1987 and again in 1998. Paraloid B-72 in toluene was applied to facilitate manipulation of the wax and cellulose nitrate
objects that have undergone previous treatments, methods and materials are chosen more for their interactions with previous treatment materials than with the original materials of fabrication

8 ORGANIC MATERIALS

8.1 TREATMENTS AT THE MFA AND CURRENT APPROACHES

Shipping to the United States was equally perilous for other organic materials. Ostrich feather fans, for example, were damaged beyond salvage when wetted on board the steamer SS
Inappropriate storage in Boston led to further losses of already fragile material. The lack of documentation previously mentioned is particularly true for organic materials. About 200 conserva
these are related to treatment of ivory inlays and recent exhibition activity.

Reisner's excavations at Kerma, located along the trade route between Egypt and Sudan, opened burial tumuli with a wealth of organic materials including burial beds, leather clothes, cow sk
decorated with thin ivory inlays depicting African animals such as elephants, gazelles, and lions, as well as mythological creatures such as winged giraffes and divinities. Elephant and hippo
a long-term loan to the Dallas Museum of Art required the re-treatment of a group of inlays consisting of eight vultures, six Tawerets (knife-wielding hippopotamus goddesses), four groups o
at Kerma (Reisner 1923). As was the case with many other finds, these had been consolidated with wax in the field (fig. 19). The inlays were broken into many small fragments, some almost
caked with soil. Some were delaminating in multiple layers and were extremely fragile (fig. 20), most likely a result of water damage, while others could be handled safely. Treatment involve
removal of wax, attachment of joining pieces to reconstruct the images, filling of losses, and the creation of safe supports by mounting them in a way that would suggest their original arrange
B-72, ranging from 2% to 10% in toluene. The resin was applied by pipette or through immersion, depending on the fragility of the piece. The consolidant solubilized the wax, which could b
strengthened the ivory at the same time. Once the staining was minimized, repeated application of Paraloid B-72 was often necessary. Most figures could be reassembled using Paraloid B

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were filled with a mixture of B-72 and 3M glass microballoons, which was surfaced with a fine spackle (LePage's Polyfix) and inpainted with Golden acrylic emulsion paints. Often a thin lay
support. The completed inlays were mounted onto a Plexiglas board in a stylized interpretation of the footboard of the original bed (fig. 21).

Other conservation materials used in the past for treatment of organics include hide glue, mucilage, gelatin, cellulose nitrate, and PVACs; often surfaces were cleaned with Calgon solutions. A
mentioned as a fill material for ivory. Obviously some of these materials may cause damage to soft and friable substrates and are extremely difficult to reverse. Current treatment approaches
damage. Loose linen wrappings on mummies, for example, are being secured or enveloped with custom-dyed crepeline; single threads are sometimes used to tie loose elements into place (
heat-tack loose crepeline membranes or sometimes to connect linen, but today acrylic resins such as Paraloid B-72 are favored for such treatments. Fibrous plant materials are mostly consolid
areas consist of Hollytex or various types of tissue paper.

In addition, objects or object groups are frequently mounted in a way that minimizes handling. Supports can range, according to material and shape of the object, from form
polyethylene felt, to Plexiglas with appropriate cushioning layers, or carved Ethafoam forms covered with fabric or inert materials. Such mounts support fragile materials and allow their disp

Ivory furniture inlays on a wooden footboard of a burial bed, after being consolidated with wax in situ. Kerma, Sudan, Tumulus IV, tomb K 449, La
1600 B.C. Courtesy of Harvard University–MFA Expedition, February 1914, neg. B2154

Fig. 19.

Medical studies of MFA mummies in regard to age, gender, and diseases using radiographic examination date back to the 1930s, when collaborative efforts with local hospitals were carried o
of the museum's mummies were examined by CAT-scanning (D'Auria et al. 1988). Not only was medical information retrieved, but also the location of amulets and other jewelry in the mum

Over the last decade, increasingly sophisticated analytical methods have led to a growing database of identified organic compounds (Newman and Serpico 2000; Serpico 2000
as traces in vessels, as for example fatty residues in Egyptian cosmetic vessels (Newman 1998). In the past these were often seen as distracting and would have been removed, whereas today
change in approach can be illustrated by considering an earlier treatment of the cartonnage of Tabes (MFA 72.4833), dating to the early 22d Dynasty. The inscription identifies the occupant a
estate of Amen Nesptah, and the cartonnage may have come from Thebes (D'Auria et al. 1988). As can be seen in a 1909 photograph (see fig. 12; the fifth mummy case from the left), the sur
libation material applied during a burial ritual. While the remnants of the libation material from this coffin have not been analyzed to date, such black substances on two other MFA coffins ha
The original color is unknown, but it is likely that this layer darkened and turned completely opaque over time, yet its presence is integral to the purpose and history of the artifact. For the mo
underlying designs were fully obstructed. It must have been for those reasons that the ancient dark layer was
Fragments of ivory furniture inlays, before treatment. Kerma, Sudan, Tumulus IV, tomb K 439. Late Classic Kerma, 1630–1600 B.C. Courtesy of S

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Fig. 20.
removed at an unknown point in the past—probably with organic solvents (fig. 22). In the process, an original, partially applied orange-colored varnish was also lost. Outlines of the dark liba
stained the underlying gesso and paint layers. Today, infrared reflectography would allow retrieval of the hidden design and, with the aid of appropriate software, the creation of a virtual, col
analysis of small paint samples taken through the darkened layers.

Twenty-four ivory furniture inlays (fig. 20), cleaned, assembled, and mounted to resemble the footboard of the bed. MFA 20.1354, 20.1356, 20.1357, 2
20.1370, 20.1371, 20.1373, 20.1375, 20.1376, 20.2039, 20.1514, 20.1515, 20.1516, 20.1517, 20.1518, 20.2040, 20.2041, 20.2042, 20.2043, 20.2044, 20.2045, 20
Gänsicke, 1993

Fig. 21.

9 CONCLUSIONS

In the past 75 years, the field of conservation has promoted great advances in the development of innovative treatment approaches, the use of increasingly stable materials, and a far greater un

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the long-term preservation of collections. The care of the Egyptian Collection at the MFA reflects this progress. In addition, great improvements have been made in the sensitivity of analytica
quality and extent of written and photographic documentation (which today includes museumwide databases incorporating curatorial and conservation information). Innovations have been m
works, drawing upon the field of materials technology. A current grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is facilitating the unpacking, examination, and rehousing of many ob
museum from the field. Planning is under way for climate-controlled galleries and storage areas. These measures ensure that the collection will be available for generations of future scholars,
their connection with our own.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks are due for providing advice, memories, resources, and support to Arthur Beale, Lawrence Berman, Michele Derrick, Denise Doxey, Rita Freed, Joyce Haynes, Jean Louis Lachevre,
generously supplied many of the images published here), Yvonne Markowitz, and Richard Newman.

Scientific analyses referred to in this article, unless otherwise noted, were performed by the MFA's Scientific Research Department by Richard Newman and Michele Derrick, and are not pub

Mummy case of Tabes, after cleaning to remove libation


material. 3d Intermediate Period, early 22d Dynasty, ca. 930–
880 B.C. cartonnage covered with painted and partially
varnished gesso, contains human remains, height 167 cm. MFA
72.4820. Courtesy of © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1988

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Fig. 22.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

SUSANNE GÄNSICKE received a certificate in archaeological conservation from the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz, Germany, in 1987, followed by an advanced
Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in objects conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She worked as site conservator at the New York University Apis Expedition at Memphis, Egypt, a
Sudan. Currently associate conservator of objects in the Department of Conservtion and Collections Management, she has been employed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, since 1990. Sh
study of ancient Egyptian and Nubian material culture and on issues of site preservation. Address: Objects Conservation, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, Mass.

PAMELA HATCHFIELD is head of objects conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she has been employed since 1985. She has a master's degree in art history and a certific
served an advanced-level internship at the Harvard University Art Museums and has worked and volunteered in conservation at numerous institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of
Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Grenada National Museum. She has also served as site conservator on the New Yor
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Expedition to the Western Cemetery at Giza. She has held numerous positions within AIC, including program chair and chair of the Objects Specialty Group, A
chair of the Publications Committee. Under a Kress Publications Grant from AIC, she has recently authored Pollutants in the Museum Environment: Practical Strategies for Design, Exhibitio
Formaldehyde: How Great Is the Danger to Museum Collections? Her research interests include the museum environment, the examination and treatment of archaeological wood, polychrom
for Gänsicke

ABIGAIL HYKIN is associate conservator of objects in the Department of Conservation and Collections Management at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She received her M.A. and certifi
State University College at Buffalo, New York, in 1992. She continued her training at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Fogg
conservator of decorative arts and sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum from 1995 to 2000. Address as for Gänsicke

MARIE SVOBODA is a graduate of the State University of New York, College at Buffalo, Art Conservation Program, receiving her M.A. and certificate of advanced study in 1994. Her post
Fine Arts, Boston, the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her interest and love for the conser
excavations in Turkey, Pakistan, and Honduras. As of 1997 she has been an assistant conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Address as for Gänsicke

C. MEI-AN TSU received her M.S. in objects conservation from the University of Delaware in 1995 and held conservation fellowships at the Freer Gallery of Art, Harvard University Art Mu
and Education. She has worked as an archaeological conservator in Turkey, Israel, Honduras, and Pakistan and is currently involved in the preservation of cuneiform tablets in Turkey. Prior t
Fine Arts, Boston, in 2000, she was a project coordinator and assistant conservator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Address as for Gänsicke

APPENDIX

APPENDIX 1. SUMMARY OF MATERIALS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN USED FOR TREATING THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN COLLECTION AT THE M

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Section Index

Copyright © 2003 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works

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