Mass finds in archaeological collections

Funded through the KUR – Programme for the Conservation of Moveable Cultural Assets

Due to large building excavation projects and the drainage of swamps and moors, archaeological agencies and collections have been confronted with an extraordinary number of archaeological finds. One of the largest unsolved problems is how best to preserve iron and waterlogged wooden objects. Iron begins to rust as soon as it comes in contact with air, and wet wood contracts and irreversibly deforms as it dries.
Various methods are used to preserve these finds, yet they had neither been critically nor systematically compared. No widely accepted standards existed. By scientifically comparing the conventional procedures, the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich developed guidelines for preserving iron artefacts and organic materials, starting from the moment they are excavated to their exhibition or storage in the museum’s storerooms. The results of this KUR project will benefit other archaeological agencies and collections and help preserve ancient iron and saturated wooden artefacts for future research and the public for years to come.


Project administrator:
Bavarian State Archaeological Collection, Munich

Cooperative partners:
Roman-Germanic Central Museum, Mainz
Technische Universität Munich
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design


Prof. Dr. Rupert Gebhard

Archäologische Staatssammlung

Lerchenfeldstraße 2

80538 München

Tel.: +49 (0)89 21124468 (external link, opens in a new window)