Vettonian culture (400–200 BC)
Castro of Las Cogotas, Cardeñosa, Ávila
Inventory number: 35.581
Media and technique: Clay, reduction firing and burnished surface
This small pot underwent a conservation/restoration treatment years ago that is now in very poor condition.
The pottery fragments were glued together, but their union was imperfect as the entire rim was obviously deformed; we suspect this restoration was done with nitrocellulose glue, an adhesive frequently used at the museum in the 1960s and 70s.
In addition, it had structural fills in every area where fragments were missing. The material most commonly used for this purpose at the National Archaeological Museum was plaster. Occasionally the restorers would use a glue or synthetic resin to make the plaster harder, but in this case we think they only used plaster, which in some areas was mixed with dye and in others was painted after applying the plaster fill.
The piece also bore marks of sanding after the plaster fills were applied, and the entire surface was covered in grime.
Attempting to treat previously restored objects is a very delicate undertaking. It is essential to study and identify what those earlier restorers did in order to determine the best course of intervention.
We often come across evidence of interventions like the one described above on pottery pieces at the National Archaeological Museum. In this particular case, we decided to maintain the plaster fills, because we felt that removing them would pose a far greater threat to the piece’s integrity. Therefore, we lightly sanded the plaster and reintegrated its colour by applying acrylic paint with stencils.
Additionally, the piece was mechanically and chemically cleaned with the aim of removing the plaster films left by the filling process, the sanding marks and the overall grime.