Heard of the Blackmoor Hoard? This is the Blackmoor Cow-Bell..

The cow bell is re assembled.  Samples of old fill can be seen to the right.

Hi, I’m Claire, the archaeology conservator at Hampshire County Council Arts & Museums Service.  Today we’re hoping to be able to post about the whole archaeology department’s activities, but we’re kicking off with conservation and my cow-bell!

The cow-bell is part of an assemblage from Blackmoor in the parish of Selbourne.  Much of the assemblage carries novel old restoration attempts which are very interesting, but  now failing.  My task with this cow bell was to remove the old brown wax fills (which were becoming covered in a fine white deposit) and the thin wooden inserts used to support joins.  I then had to carefully clean the cow-bell to remove any residues, and reassemble it with modern and reversible acrylic adhesive and a spider tissue backing – sort of like a thin conservation grade papier mache!

A Day in an Archaeological Conservation Program

I’m a Conservation Specialist for the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program, a graduate conservation training program specializing in the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials.  In our 3 year course, we train students in the methods and techniques used for the examination and preservation of objects and have them understand the properties of materials, how they deteriorate and ways to slow down or prevent further deterioration.

In a typical day our students attend lectures in the morning on various aspects of conservation and then follow that in the afternoon with work in the lab.  We just had an intake of a new class in the Fall of 2011 and they spent their first year learning about and working on materials such as archaeological ceramics, glass, metals, and  textiles.

In one course they learned about the deterioration of archaeological ceramics and the damage caused by soluble salts. Students then determined how to identify the salts and remove them. Here a student is taking a conductivity reading of wash water as she desalinates a small ceramic vessel.