INTRODUCTION:THE MAKING OF A CONFERENCE
, BRITTA SCHMUTZLER
State Academy of Art and Design, Am Weißenhof 1, D-53489 Stuttgart, Germanygerhard.firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com
There's a problem
Guess, when this was written: “As is generallyknown, excavated iron objects decay – depen-ding on their state of deterioration- sooner or later even in the driest exhibition or storagerooms despite all precautions.”? No, althoughwe are today all aware of the problem, that'snot a current description from anarchaeologist. It was written by the Berlinmuseum chemist Eduard Krause in 1882, healready supposed the action of chloride andfound ferrous chloride in 'weeping iron' (Fig.1).But the problem to stabilize iron finds is still with us, washing with water as Krauserecommended does not help very much. The alkaline sulphite treatment described by Northand Pearson was a big step forward for individual finds without organic remains. For dealingwith the tons of iron excavated every year many conservation labs found it too complicated.While working on a book on iron conservation (Scott and Eggert 2009) it became apparentthat there might be ways to simplify the treatment (no heating, diluted solutions, alternativesto sulphite to keep the oxygen out). That was start of a research project, generously funded bythe Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) who also supports this colloquium to share itsresults with the international conservation community. The idea to compare variations wasstraight forward: It's not the amount of chloride extracted into the solution, but the chlorideleft behind in the object which needs to be measured (Eggert and Schmutzler 2009).Fortunately, the Romans left so many nails in the soil of Baden-Württemberg that the Landes-amt für Denkmalpflege (LAD Baden-Württemberg), cooperation partner for the researchproject and co-organiser of this conference, was able to provide us with enough samples.Experimentally, measuring chloride in iron turned out much more complicated than expectedfrom the literature...
Fig. 1: ’Weeping iron’: Who may dry itstears? Photo: I. Wiesner, SABK