Kate’s plan is to stabilize the fragile ostracon pieces and reintegrate them as much as possible so they can be used for study and research. She first carefully cleaned the porous limestone by lightly dabbing it with a dry cosmetic sponge. She also worked to determine how best to remove aged adhesive from the back of the fragments without damaging the ink. She believes the writer used a reed, rather than a brush, to write on the stone substrate, due to the smooth, even quality of the lines of each character.
Kate will work the four pieces like a jigsaw puzzle to fit them together. The pieces are so fragile that they are difficult to handle, much less reattach, and she is deciding how best to house them so that they can be used for study. One option is to digitally reintegrate them, while another is to house the pieces in proximity to one another in an archival container so that the text can be read. As she completes her treatment on the ostracon before returning it to Johns Hopkins, Kate is happy that she has been able to touch, work with, and assist in researching an object from so long ago.
A printable PDF version of this story is available here. Previous stories on projects from the Department of Art Conservation are archived and available here.