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Restoration of the unique Pre-Mongolic hoard with bronze items from Central Asia

Historical reference

Collection of Islamic bronzes of the pre-Mongol period in Hermitage is quite large, but the present hoard of bronze items  from Central Asia significantly enriches it with a representative selection of period pieces. Most of them bear Arabic inscriptions and are decorated with relief ornament and inlays. Part of the objects was produced by the craftsmen of Khorasan; others were probably made in Mawarannahr in the 11th-12th century. Items from this treasure are truly unique.

The Tray

Made in Khorasan in the 11th-12th c. Cast from bronze (brass), embossed, with silver inlays. Dimensions: length – 29 cm, width – 18 cm, height – 3,5 cm.

Preservation condition

In four fragments. There are minor deformations, cracks and tearings with loss of metal on the edges. Metal is deeply corroded, metal base of different thickness. The metal at the edges of  cracks and tears is  mineralized. Embossed ornament preserved only in the layer of cuprite. Copper corrosion hides the inlay, embossed ornament and Arabic inscriptions on the surface. Someone, probably the person discovering the hoard, has cleaned the inlay at the bottom of the tray with hard abrasives, leaving deep scratches on the silver surface.

Necessary conservation treatment:

  • preparing of the scientific documentation;
  • carrying out a complex of physical, chemical, microscopic, technological research;
  • research of the state of preservation of objects;
  • removal of soil layers;
  • detection of inlay and ornament;
  • cleansing of Arabic inscriptions;
  • stabilization of active corrosion;
  • conservation;
  • assembling the fragments together;
  • strengthening the glued places with mastiс.
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The Cup

The cup was made in Khorasan or Mawarannahr in the 11th c. Bronze, embossing and engraving. Height – 7,5 cm, width – 10 cm, and 8,5 at the neck.

Preservation condition

In the past this cup was a goblet, but its stem is lost. Item is partly mineralized. Overall surface is covered with thick layers of loess and corrosion which hide epigraphic ornament. At the bottom of the cup there are one big loss of metal and several smaller surrounded with  cracks. The whole surface, especially  the edges of the metal losses, has spots of chloric copper as evidence of active corrosion.

Necessary conservation treatment:

  • preparing of the scientific documentation;
  • carrying out a complex of physical, chemical, microscopic, technological research;
  • research of the state of preservation of objects;
  • removal of soil layers;
  • detection of ornament,
  • cleaning the ornaments,
  • extirpation of the chlorides,
  • conservation;
  • reinforcement of thin layers,
  • work with mastic.
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