Under the Microscope – Archaeological Conservation

1 min read
 From Chinese bronzes and Ango-Saxon burial goods, to children’s workshops and international conferences, a conservator’s life is never dull. Dana Goodburn-Brown takes us through a typical day.

On a typical day, the morning starts with an e-mail session: picking up reminders for work to do, responding to queries, putting my own out, lobbying for financial support for Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne project, confirming dates for future work (today it was setting up a week to return to re-packaging the Egyptian Garstang collections at the University of Liverpool; confirming travel dates for the IIC (International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work) biennial conference in Istanbul; and registering for an Icon seminar on the use of Portable XRF equipment).

Next will be an action plan for things to try to accomplish for the day and rest of the week.

Today I will write-up my report from treating a Chinese bronze with active corrosion yesterday at the Compton Verney collection; examine some Roman coins and provide an estimate to Oxford Archaeology (OA) for their cleaning and stabilisation; work on publication draft and take micro-photographs of interesting technical details for OA publication of Roman bronzes from the A2 project; and answer queries/review work from volunteers working on Anglo-Saxon finds for Canterbury Archaeology Trust (CAT) at CSI.

Another thing for my ‘to do’ list is to book an X-radiography session at Oceaneering (a local Non-Destructive Testing Business who let me use their equipment); visit some local silversmiths to get estimates for producing replicas of the A2 Roman bronzes; liaise with the education officer at CAT about our sessions at CSI for school groups and the general public; as well as planning for next year’s Tudor metalworking and archaeology sessions for The Historic Dockyard Trust; and lending support to keep Medway Children’s University alive (recently the council announced the programme would be cut — I have been providing a series of “archaeological detectives” workshops for children aged 8-11 in Medway for the past 11 years).

Another thing I must remember to do today is order more gloves and silica gel for CSI: Sittingbourne, and get a couple of invoices out. At the end of the day I’ll check my emails again and answer anything urgent, (sometimes there is an exciting surprise, like an unusual find or project which requires me to visit an archaeological site   –   even as far afield as Abu Dhabi!).

Tomorrow I hope to have some time at the microscope doing some investigative cleaning, and chat to the CSI visitors and volunteers — these are things I love best of all, but not what occupies most of my time, due to the pressures of running a business and keeping up with a multifaceted profession.

Dana Goodburn-Brown, ACR
Anglo-Saxon CSI Sittingbourne

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