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Tim Higson, Collection Care team leader writes:

The Collection Care Department have been preparing a number of items being loaned to the British Museum as part of their Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs exhibition, which opens in October 2015.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/faith_after_the_pharaohs.aspx

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One of the items to be loaned is Greek Papyrus 6, a Christian theological text, which is considered to be the oldest copy in existence of the Nicene Creed.

The papyrus fragment, which measures 124mm x 125mm, was housed within a glass frame along with another fragment of Greek papyrus (Greek P 7).

papyrus6

Greek P 6 recto

The decision was taken to re-mount the two items individually.

When Greek P 6 was carefully removed from its glass frame, a salt deposit, on the inner surface of the glass was evident, which had been partially obscuring the view of the fragment and text.

Salt deposit visible where the document was mounted

Salt deposit visible where the document was originally mounted

During the process and whilst the item was out of its frame, we took the opportunity to have multi spectral images of the fragment taken by the JRL’s Heritage Imaging Team.

Surface dirt was removed from the fragment along with old repair material (Glassine paper), before creases were eased open and relaxed.

Glassine repair

Repair removal

The ink was tested to ensure its stability as this technique involves the introduction of deionised water to areas of the fragment which could compromise the text.

Breaks and splits in the fragment were repaired and joined using small pieces of remoistenable Japanese tissue coated with sodium carboxylmethylcellulose as an adhesive.

repairs on Greek6

Greek P 6 during conservation

The fragment was then secured in position between 2mm UV filtered glass, using small Japanese tissue ‘anchors’. Wheat starch paste was used as an adhesive. It’s important that all treatments carried out are reversible and that materials are of archival quality.

The frame was labelled and bound, using a white Tyvek tape.

rehoused

Greek P 6 after rehousing, ready to be packed for the British museum exhibition!