Some texts are currently available in German only. We apologize for any inconvenience.
The holdings of around 80,000 objects are looked after by five conservation workshops which are subdivided into the areas of stone, ceramics, metal, wood and other organic materials, and papyrus. The conservators are responsible for the care of objects while they are in storage, being exhibited and on loan. Public relations activities include tours of workshops and storerooms as well as looking after visitors who are carrying out research on original pieces. The conservators are currently preparing an exhibition on the subject of conservation in the archaeological collection of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz) which is planned for 2009.
Conservation of stone
Stone objects form the bulk of the Egyptian collection. These objects comprise various types of sedimentary stone (limestone, sandstone and alabaster) and hard rocks (granite, diorite, gneiss, quartz, and greywacke). The objects are statues, stelas, reliefs, architectural remnants, cult artefacts and artefacts with a practical purpose, which can be made of untreated stone or coloured. Depending on their size, the objects vary in weight from a few grammes to several tons. Using their condition and the extent to which they are damaged as a starting point, the pieces are documented, conserved and restored after exhaustive examination and with reference to the latest results of research.
Conservation of ceramics
Objects made of silica-based material - mainly painted and unpainted earthenware, but also silicate ceramic (faience), glass, glaze, and objects made of clay or adobe - are handled in this workshop. The area of the collection under care incorporates hollow-ware and other artefacts which were intended for everyday use, figures such as Uschebtis, gods and presentations of animals, bricks, seals and jewellery. Preventative conservation, for example the protection of unstable surfaces, the cleaning, ordering and reassembly of diverse fragments of objects, is a priority in a comprehensive working review of the depot's entire holdings. Conservation of single pieces or groups of objects begins with examination of the material and comprises stabilisation, consolidation, cleaning, the removal of the results of previous conservation, reconstruction and supplementation. The supervision of interns or students is only possible in co-operation with other workshops of the museum.
Conservation of metal
The Egyptian Museum's metal objects include statues, small sculptures, cult artefacts, jewellery, implements and tools, which date from the period 3000 BC to 300 AD and which the museum acquired by means of excavations, gifts and purchases. They consist of copper alloys, precious metals, iron and various non-iron based metals and combinations of materials which also include leather and wood. The great age and damaging conditions in which they were discovered has resulted in many objects showing signs of corrosion, salinisation and brittleness which greatly reduces their sturdiness. Some objects were obtained only in fragmentary form. Previous and partly inappropriate attempts at ensuring longevity are often the cause of further chemical and electrochemical processes which, for their part, have led to additional damage of materials. The complex consistency and damage of the metal objects demands complex approaches to conservation and conservation.
Conservation of Wood
Objects made of wood, the most well-known examples of which are sarcophagi, sculptures and portraits of mummies, constitute the most comprehensive material group within the collection of the Egyptian Museum. Painted containers made of multi-layered textiles and papyrus, which were used to adorn mummies, constitute a further significant material group. Human and animal mummies also belong in this context. Further, there are artefacts made of ivory, bone, mother-of-pearl, leather and wax as well as plant-based foodstuffs and textiles. Our fragments of floor and wall decorations consist of painted stucco and silt from the river Nile. The wood workshop takes sole responsibility for overseeing the conservation and conservation of a diverse range of organic materials. The textile holdings are cared for in co-operation with the Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art. The workshop offers places for interns and the supervision of masters dissertations (Diplomarbeiten).
Conservation of papyrus
The papyrus collection, with a holding of over 35,000 manuscripts, is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. The founder of papyrus conservation, Dr. h.c. Hugo Ibscher worked here for over forty years and was followed later by his son, Dr. Rolf Ibscher. Along with papyrus there is a range of other writing materials such as parchment, leather, paper, wood and wax tablets as well as schard and slivers of limestone. The various conditions of the papyri at the time of acquisition are a result of the conditions at the sites of discovery, such as, for example, ancient dumping grounds or tombs. During conservation, corrosive inks and pigments, as well as previous treatment, have to be borne in mind. Conservation work ranges from comprehensive measures to ensure the longevity of material to the reconstruction of fragmented surviving text. The uncovering of new texts through the decomposition of papyrus containers constitutes a further focus. The containers consist of papyrus documents which were recycled for the production of mummie's masks.