Having just arrived as interns in the conservation department the work on the new Ancient Worlds galleries had already progressed so far we had not expected there would be anything left for us to do except help with installation. But, to our delight two Roman ceramic objects, recently recovered from a dig in Manchester, landed on our desk all trussed up like Christmas presents.
On e of these was a Samian ware bowl. The bowl needed to be reconstructed before it could go on display. However the edges had become very worn and almost completely smooth which meant there were large gaps between the sherds.
When there are gaps this large there is insufficient support to create strong stable joins. In order to give the necessary strength to the reconstruction, adhesive material mixed with bulking agents was added to the gaps. The filling material was also coloured with pigments so that it would blend in with the ceramic material, creating visual cohesion.
The terracotta flagon presented different challenges as there were missing areas requiring in-fills of plaster to provide structural strength to the finished reconstruction. The largest of these fills had to be completed after the pot was fully put together, but as a closed pot there was no access to the back of the fill area. Support was provided from a balloon held in place whilst the reconstruction was finished.
Once the plaster fill was dry the balloon could be popped and removed though the top of the pot. The fills were then colour matched and the pot was finally complete.
We look forward to seeing the first objects of our internship in their new home and on display to the public.
For another perspective on this project and other information about the Ancient Worlds galleries see: http://ancientworldsmanchester.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/going-potty-for-ancient-worlds/