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In the Museums of the Ancient Near East, the department of conservation is dealt with in three workshops. These are divided into the three main material groups, which are stone, ceramics and metal. The conservators are responsible for the appropriate care of the entire holdings in the permanent exhibition and the repository, as well as for objects on loan for temporary exhibitions. Over and above this, the conservators assist in various academic projects, supervise work outsourced to freelance conservators and assist with the practical elements of academic training.
Conservation of stone
The stone workshop in the Museum of the Ancient Near East deals with all the necessary restoration and conservation concerns of the entire stone and plaster collection holdings. The spectrum of tasks carried out ranges from the handling of small-format objects (for instance, cylinder seals and impression seals from the period 400 to 100 B.C.) to the conservation and sculptural reconstruction of elements of monumental constructions (for example, sculptures from Tel Halaf). The remit covers all conservation and conservation work, which is accomplished using complex methods, in order to preserve archaeological objects from a period of over 5,000 years.
Conservation of ceramics
The collection's comprehensive holding of ceramics includes unglazed and glazed pots, terracotta figures and reliefs, unglazed and glazed bricks as well as jewellery and architectural elements. The restoration and conservation of objects are primarily handled in the workshops equipped for these material groups and with regard to the type of damage that they have suffered. A special focus is the conservation of the Museum of the Ancient Near East's important collection of cuneiform script panels. Further groups of materials under conservation include glass, as well as the objects made of ivory and bone.
Conservation of metal
The part of the collection holdings which are made of metal require particular attention in that they consist of objects recovered as a result of archaeological digs. The composition of the metal material group is multifarious, including objects made of copper and its alloys, gold, silver, iron and lead. The majority of metal objects are in an advanced state of corrosion which can lead to mineralization. Objects obtained in a fragmented condition with significantly diminished structural stability, together with aggressive, continually damaging corrosive processes, are particular grounds for conservation work. The remit of metal conservation work consists of halting the advancing disintegration of artefacts, preserving their solidity and identifying material-specific and technical properties of objects, frequently only identifiable after conservation.