Restoration revisited: Ancient and modern repairs encountered in the conservation of an ancient Egyptian collection

Renée Stein, Katherine Singley, Mimi Leveque, Alexandra Klingelhofer, and Ronald


The conservation of a recently acquired collection of ancient Egyptian mummies and coffins has yielded observations about ancient technology and re-use, nineteenth-century restorations, and modern repair efforts. A team of conservators, scholars, and scientists contributed to the on-going treatment and research of this collection. This presentation will survey the varying states of preservation seen among the mummies and coffins purchased by Michael C. Carlos Museum in 1999. The mummies exhibited a wide range of conditions, due to the quality of mummification as well as to ancient and recent damage. Discussion will include minimally invasive techniques for the examination and treatment of mummies as well as a brief survey of the textiles and styles of wrapping. . Conditions of the coffins ranged from minor insect and water damage, paint loss and discoloration, to multiple breaks and significant loss. Comparing evidence seen on 21st and 25th Dynasty coffins, the materials and techniques of construction, re-use, and restoration will be described. At least on coffin appears to have been modified for re-use in antiquity, while other coffins were repaired and restored using modern materials. Original construction, damage, ancient alterations, and modern repairs must be interpreted and reconciled with current treatment and aesthetic goals. The variety of coatings present on the coffins suggests future work to further address their composition and antiquity in an effort to document the ancient materials and to understand their intended appearances.

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