Tag Archives: Conservation

New Beginnings

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In September 2014, the Penn Museum’s Conservation Department was able to move into our long-awaited new spaces. Funded by generous donors, including lead donors A. Bruce and Margaret Mainwaring, Charles K. Williams II, and Frederick J. Manning, the spaces were designed by Samuel Anderson Architects. In the newly renovated West Wing Conservation and Teaching Labs, […]

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Soft Vegetative Roof Capping at Gordion: A Tutorial Video

Poa bulbosa inflorescence

Archaeobotanists usually deal with dead plants, but as I was finishing my research on the ancient plant remains at Gordion, an ongoing project of the Penn Museum, I became involved in a bigger project: preserving regional biodiversity, the historical landscape, and the archaeological site itself through the management of the native vegetation. The approach sees […]

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Standing on Stilts: The Glazed Ceramics from Ur

Reconstruction of how stilt were used to stack bowls during firing

In my last blog post I wrote about the process for firing some of the unglazed ceramics from Ur and I thought I’d follow that up with some information about the glazed ceramics from Ur. The firing of glazed wares is different from unglazed ceramics in a few key ways.  First they have to be […]

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When what you see is not what you get

30-47-17Aat1

The museum is getting ready to install an exhibition on this year’s Penn Humanities Forum theme: Color. This alabaster head from South Arabia (30-47-17A) was selected for the exhibition to help illustrate how representations of human heads were achieved in stone in a variety of cultures and throughout time. When it first came to the […]

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I Spy with My Little Eye…

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One of the most amazing aspects of Buddhist murals condition survey is that it does not get boring. We are constantly discovering more details and quirks. While a regular, sharp-eyed museum visitor can see many of these details, some are impossible to truly appreciate without being fifteen feet tall and two feet from the mural. […]

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How We Do What We Do

Buddhist Blog Project Photo

“Can you please explain what you’re doing?” is a question we hear daily. From a visitor’s perspective it doesn’t look like we’re doing much. Basically, we observe and document. A thorough condition report is the first step in any conservation treatment; we need to know what we’re dealing with. These murals are so large that […]

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What ARE the Buddhist Murals Made Of?

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The questions most frequently asked of us while working on the Buddhist murals in the Chinese rotunda involve what the murals are made of. Often people presume they are frescoes. True fresco is done on wet plaster. The pigments used in a fresco are mixed with water and applied to a wet plaster surface. A […]

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The Ur Digitization Project: The Largest Jar!

Field Photo from Pit F showing an excavated kiln still containing pottery

While working on the Ur Digitization Project and the condition assessment of the ceramic vessels from Ur, I often find myself thinking about how they were made.  Once in a while I notice features that help illuminate that question.  My favorite example of this is 31-16-160, which is described in our database as, “pottery, the […]

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Mysteries of Kourion Revisited: a Mystery Solved!

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Awhile back I wrote a post, Mysteries of Kourion, about an unusual object from Kaloriziki Kourion (an archaeological site on Cyprus), which rattles when moved.  Last week I got to revisit the question of what exactly is making that noise, as this object along with a number of objects from the Egyptian section were taken […]

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The Salty Pots of Ur and the Desalination Station

Ceramics drying after desalination

In July, I joined the Ur Digitization Project.  As a part of this project, I have been working on a condition assessment of the ceramics from Ur.  In doing the condition assessment I am looking at, measuring, and evaluating the stability of every ceramic vessel in the Museum’s collection from Ur.  So far I have […]

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