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SG203B Program B

Restoration of  Archaeological Ceramics

3 Units
Instructor: Prof. Giulia Barella


Morning Seminars and Lectures: Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM (2 weeks)

Afternoon Workshop: Monday – Friday, 2:00 PM to 6:30 PM (2 weeks)

  • There also will be study visits to the nearby ancient Roman City of Carsulae and regional museums.

Course Description

No Prerequisites required

REQUIREMENTS: Courses SG 203A is complementary to this course and must be taken in the same session.

The second two weeks of the program Restoration and Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics is the course Restoration of Archaeological Ceramics.

The subject matter complements that in course SG203B (Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics) and is taught by an experienced restorer, a graduate of the ISCR restoration school, who specializes in ceramics restoration and conservation. In the lectures and workshop, students learn the theory and practice of restoring archaeological pottery, working on original archaeological materials on loan from the Soprintendenza Archeologica dell’Umbria.

In the workshop under the close supervision of their instructor, students clean, restore and document the pottery while they learn the following techniques: various methods of cleaning pottery sherds, the reassembly of pottery from surviving sherds, in-filling gaps left in the pottery after reassembly, the aesthetic treatment of the infilling for display and how to document the restoration procedure.

Course Objectives

This course aims to give basic theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the field of conservation of archaeological pottery.

Summary of Lecture Content

Philosophical, cultural and institutional framework for restoration in Italy

• Theory and philosophy of restoration

• Short history of restoration and conservation

• Institutional setting and support for restoration

Ceramic conservation

The methodological approach

Documentation of restoration work

• Photographic, textual and graphic methods

• Examples and lab practice

Cleaning techniques and materials

• Types of dirt and foreign materials

• Mechanical and chemical methodologies and instruments

• Safety measures

• Materials from previous restorations

Consolidation techniques and materials

• Advantages and limits of the procedure

• Consolidant requirements

• Different application methods

Fragments search methodology

Joining techniques and materials

• Adhesive general requirements

• Adhesive choice

• Thermosetting/thermoplastic resins: differences, application methods, safety measures

• Useful supplies for bonding

Gap filling, surface protection and supports

• Thoughts and issues around gap fillings

• Characteristics and requirements of the materials

• Most commonly used fillers in Italy

• Application techniques, refinishing, painting

Some case studies of interesting ceramic restorations

• Big vessels, statues, etc.

Conservation in the field

• Roles of conservator during excavation

• Field conservation lab

• Lifting techniques

• Micro-excavation

• Temporary protection materials

• Packing and storage (short/long time), materials and methods

Ceramic decay

• Decay processes and damages

• Different environments (before and after the abandonment)

• Agents of decay

• Physical damage

• Chemical factors and processes

Handling and moving objects of art

• Guidelines and techniques to handle and lift delicate objects

• Useful devices

Museum and storage environments

• Preventive conservation in museums

• Agents of deterioration in museums

• Object locations

Packing and display materials

• Rigid and semi-rigid materials (natural and synthetic)

• Flexible and elastic materials (natural and synthetic)

• Buffering, scavenger and monitoring devices

Site study visits

• Visit to local museums and restoration laboratory

Afternoon Workshop: Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics

Visual inspection

• Recognizing materials, techniques, marks and flaws

Scientific Testing

• Materials

• Dating


• Morphology

• Clay forming

• Firing

• Materials




Slips and glazes

• Stylistic analysis

Documentation and recording

• Drawings

• Diagrams

• Documentation

Description of Assignments


Assigned reading, written assignment

Earlier Event: May 27
SG204A Program C
Later Event: June 23
FT1 Intersession Field Trip