Painted linen mummy-wrapping.
- Found/Acquired: Egypt
- Length: 152.5 centimetres
- Width: 31.5 centimetres
PM V: p. 24.
23 October 1998
Reason for treatment
Remove from paper backing if possible. Remount onto cotton backing on padded Aerolam board. Display at slight angle. Consider adhesive and stitched options.
The shroud has been adhered to a single piece of card, the upper face of which is covered with a layer of brown paper. The shroud is very flat and appears firmly attached to the card in most places; only the four corners and the edges of some splits are delaminating from the card. The card is cockled causing the panel to bow convexly in two vertical lines down its full length. The ground fabric of the shroud is discoloured and brittle as a result of the degradation of the linen fibres. The acidity of the card mount is likely to have contributed to the degradation of the linen. The degradation is most severe in the areas where a blue/green paint has been applied. In these areas the linen fibres are dark brown in colour, brittle and extremely fragile. There is a large missing area of linen at the head of the painted figure and all four edges of the panel appear to have been cut. The torn and cut edges are fraying. In many areas the warp(?) threads are lost and only the weft(?) threads remain. Loss of paint has occurred in many areas. There has been significant loss of the bright blue paint where it has been used to depict the diagonal lines of the bead net. Large areas of the blue/green paint, used to depict other bead net line, are also missing due to the loss of the degraded linen fabric. The remaining paint appears firmly bound to the fabric.
The card was removed from the frame by cutting around its outer edges with a Stanley knife. The shroud was then released from the card using spatulas, scalpels and palette knives. Cold mist from an ultrasonic humidifier was used to soften the adhesive in the most firmly adhered areas; however, the use of this technique was discontinued after a short period as it appeared to weaken the already degraded linen fibres. In these areas sections of cardboard were left in situ to be removed from the reverse later as far as possible. During removal some deterioration and loss of the severely degraded linen beneath the blue/green paint was unavoidable. Following removal from the cardboard, the shroud was turned over, by sandwiching between Correx boards and temporarily supported face down on a sheet of Correx, covered with Melinex and Bondina. The remains of cardboard that were still adhered to the reverse of the shroud, where it had been cut away from the board were removed as far as possible using poultices of 7% Laponite RD (sodium magnesium lithium silicate), applied locally, with a tissue paper barrier layer. After 30 minutes to 1 hour, the adhesive had softed enough to allow the majority of the cardboard to be picked off using tweezers. Due to the very weak nature of the shroud, it was decided to apply repair patches on the reverse to give localised support to the most degraded areas - for example the painted figures. Small patches of Japanese tissue paper (tengujo type) were torn and pasted out with 20% w/v Klucel G (hydroxypropyl cellulose) in Industrial methylated spirits (ethanol,methanol). These patches were then applied to the reverse of the shroud, gradually building up a network of support to the weakest areas. Because of the use of IMS and the very 'dry' nature of the adhesive paste, there was no staining of the linen. It was felt unnecessary to colour the paper patches, because they were barely visible from the front of the shroud. Nor did the adhesive dry with a shine noticeable from the front. A new support fabric of bleached cotton calico was dyed using Ciba Geigy Solophenyl cellulose dyes, to an appropriate neutral shade. The shroud was to be placed face up on this support fabric, but handling and turning the shroud was difficult. To accomplish this, the fabric was first laid over the shroud, which was at this stage lying face down on its temporary support board, and then a second Correx support board was placed over this. By sandwiching the shroud and its support fabric between the rigid Correx boards, it could be turned over. Then the top support board (previously on the bottom) was lifted off, and the bottom support board (previously on the top) was slipped out from underneath the fabric, leaving the shroud lying face up on the support fabric. Final adjustments were made to the alignment of the weave and any fragments. A length of fine nylon net, large enough to cover the entire shroud, was dyed using Ciba Geigy Lanaset dyes. This was to cover the shroud, thus giving it support and hold it to the backing fabric. The colour of the net was very carefully chosen to minimise the loss of detail in the painted shroud, and in the end an olive green colour was found to be most appropriate. The nylon net was carefully unrolled over the shroud and pinned in place. The nylon net overlay was attached to the backing fabric by stitching worked around the outer edges of the shroud and through all the missing areas in the shroud. In this way the shroud was held secure by being sandwiched between the net and the support fabric, with only minimal stitching directly in it. The nylon net was cut away closely around the edges of the shroud, except in edge areas where the linen had degraded and here the net was left to indicate where the larger missing areas of the shroud would have been. A permanent support board was made for the shroud of Aerolam F board (glass fibre,epoxy laminate on aluminiun honeycombe) now renamed Hexlite 620 covered with cotton domette padding and fabric. The supported shroud was attached to the board by stitching around the edges of the board. A further support line of stitching was worked through the support fabric into the board fabric, around the edge of the shroud, in order to prevent any sagging whilst on display.
16 April 1999
Reason for analysis
Analysis of blue and green pigments on linen shroud
The shroud, dating to circa 200 BC was decorated in lines in imitation of beadwork.The linen showed severe degradation where the pigments were situated. Where the pigmentlayer had become detached the underlying linen was very degraded and brown.The pigment samples were examined by polarised light microscopy and x-ray fluorescenceanalysis (xrd) to identify them.By XRF the blue pigment contained copper, and showed the microscopical characteristics ofEgyptian blue including pleochroism, birefringence and refractive index less than 1.66.The green pigment was shown to contain copper, and in the polarising light microscope asmall amount of a colourless glassy material refractive index less than 1.66 which wasisotropic. A large number of shattered brown linen fibres were present to which brown rathershapeless particles were attached. X-ray diffraction of this sample did not produce a patternfor the pigment. Green pigments which cause degradation of cellulosic substrates can often bedifficult to identify as they frequently do not yield x-ray diffraction patterns, this is partlybecause they have themselves undergone alteration.ConclusionThe blue pigment is Egyptian blue, the green pigment contains copper but could not beotherwise identified.
Analysis reference number
Ancient Egypt & Sudan
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Object reference number: YCA54523
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