How It Works

What’s the best way to preserve ancient artefacts?

It really depends on what you’ve found. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. I’m sure any conservator would say the technique of preservation is dictated by the materials the artefacts are made from. Different materials have different chemical properties and characteristics. An object made of, say, iron might have to be cleaned and kept in a dry environment to prevent it from rusting. A bronze object too might need cleaning and keeping in a dry store to prevent bronze disease. A waterlogged wooden object could be treated by soaking it in water-soluble wax and then freeze-drying. It might be sufficient to clean and glue back together pieces of broken pottery, while gold
jewellery might need no intervention at all because gold is an inert (or non-reactive) metal.

Answered by Bryan Sitch, Manchester Museum.