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Subject: Storage of bone

Storage of bone

From: Jessica Johnson <Jessica_Johnson>
Date: Monday, February 9, 1998
Zoran Milic <zoran.milic [at] narmuz-lj__si>

>A very precious osseous flute was found in Slovenija by the
>archaeologist Dr. Turk in the year 1995. It was made of young
>cave-bear leg 45.000 BP, so it belongs to the middle Palaeolithic
>age (mousterien). The flute is doubtless the oldest and the precious
>instrument ever found.
>...
>My idea is to put it into the polyethylene or polypropylene
>transparent box with ArtSorb filling. We are, however, not sure what
>form of ArtSorb (granule, cassette or plates) should be used and to
>which RH value it should be conditioned.

Your idea to put this wonderful flute into some kind of controlled
storage environment is a good one.  As I understand it, the problem
you have is to preserve the flute better now, but also to protect it
when it leaves your care in the future.

Because you may have little control over it in the future, I would
not recommend putting the flute into storage with a material that
you have to condition.  Unless you know that the material (like
ArtSorb) will be maintained--you might be setting up worse
conditions for the flute over time.

Instead, think about using passive buffers--various organic
materials that will slow the environmental changes that penetrate
the storage container.  For example: you might sew a special bag of
clean, undyed, soft cotton cloth to hold the artifact and protect it
from abrasion. This bag could then be put into a polyethylene, or
polypropylene box and surrounded with cotton on all sides.  You
should make sure the cotton does not directly touch the artifact as
it might catch on rough areas of the surface.  You should also
consider double boxing the artifact--with more cotton inside the
outer box.  The more layers of organic material you put around the
artifact the better. I would be glad to discuss the project with you
further.

Jessie Johnson
Conservator
Museum Management Program
National Park Service, USA

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