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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Back to nature:
geologically informed consolidants for stone museum artefacts

Project team

  • Jennifer Booth
  • Dr. Philip Fletcher

Assessing the potential of novel inorganic conservation treatments to preserve deteriorating Ancient Egyptian limestone Sculptures.

The British Museum has a large collection of stone artefacts, including limestone sculptures, from different geographic locations and cultural backgrounds. Some of these artefacts suffer a range of deterioration problems, varying in severity. In particular several Ancient Egyptian artefacts, formed from stone with a naturally high salt concentration, are degrading rapidly and have reached a state where it will be necessary to apply a consolidant. A consolidant is a substance that is applied to decaying stone with the intention of restoring its chemical and physical properties. The Back to Nature project was developed to evaluate the potential of three novel, inorganic, stone consolidation techniques based upon naturally occurring rock components, in comparison to more conventional methods based upon organic chemicals.

Current consolidation treatments available, such as organo silanes, have not always been successful when applied to limestone artefacts, and also have significant drawbacks in ease and safety of application and environmental sustainability. Inorganic consolidants are an alternative that could offer greater compatibility with carbonate stones, but they have been criticised in the past for their poor penetration depth and deposition within stone pores. New technological developments, particularly research into ‘nano-limes’, have led to a return to investigating the possibilities for inorganic consolidants.

The Back to Nature project was developed to evaluate the potential of three novel, inorganic, stone consolidation techniques based upon naturally occurring rock components, in comparison to more conventional methods based upon organic chemicals. The three new treatments selected for investigation were: CaLoSil, a newly commercially available consolidant using calcium hydroxide nano-particles; Ammonium Oxalate treatment, a technique developed in Italy based upon the process behind naturally occurring calcium oxalate patinas; Calcite In-situ Precipitation System (CIPS), a treatment developed in Australia for the oil and gas industry. As a comparison, Wacker OH 100 (a commonly used Organo Silane) was included in all investigations. The project used three key approaches: archival research into the artefacts suffering deterioration and past treatments used within the museum; practical research into conservation methods with museum stone conservators; experimental investigations into the consolidation treatments in laboratories both at the museum and in Oxford.

Experimental investigations have been conducted on blocks of stone in representation of the artefacts. This allows new treatments to be tested extensively without risk to the artefacts themselves. The blocks are tested before and after consolidation to measure the effectiveness of the treatment. A large variety of analytical methods have been used in the Back to Nature project to assess the consolidation effectiveness including: Drilling Resistance Measurement System (DRMS), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Thin Section Petrography, X-ray Diffraction (XRD), PunditLab Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity, Mercury Intrusion Porosimetry (MIP), Equotip, Ion Chromatography, Spectrophotometry, Karsten Tubes, and GrindoSonic.

Further information

Conferences presented at:

October 2012: 12th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone: New York
June 2012: Non-destructive Investigation of Masonry (Historic Scotland): Edinburgh
April 2011: 2nd Annual Pitt Rivers Symposium: Georgia
September 2010: XIX Congress of the Carpathian Balkan Geological Association: Thessaloniki
September 2010: University of Oxford Social Sciences Induction Event: Oxford

 

Applying a poultice to stone samples