The British Museum's collections, £16.99
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Cleaning the mummy case and portrait of Artemidorus
This cartonnage mummy case is boldly decorated with vermilion red that has blackened over time. Gilding has been applied over the decorative symbols. Over the years the case had become dirty and tests were carried out to find the most suitable cleaning method. The tests ensured that solvents that might affect the painted surface would not be used. During the delicate cleaning process, areas of old repair became apparent. Some missing sections had been filled and coloured. Samples of paint were taken from these areas and scientific analysis confirmed that the paint was not original. It was agreed with the curator that the more unsightly fills should be visually improved by removing the retouched areas and repainting. There were also areas of loose bandage; these were secured with an adhesive.
The encaustic wax mummy portrait was also gently cleaned with distilled water and cotton wool swabs. Areas of lifting pigment on the face were relaid by using a fine sable paint brush to apply a reversible adhesive under the flakes.