Drying wet mummy

San Diego Natural History Museum Library libsdnhm at CLASS.ORG
Wed Aug 23 13:04:44 CDT 1995

Yes, but the procedure is a highly specialized one and theere is lots of
potential for problems. Kids, DON'T try this at home. This is a problem
that should be taken to a trained professiobnal conservator.

Prescriptions such as the ones below coming ftom people like us who are
not experts in this field but have just heard about a procedure are
neither responsible nor ethical. I recall the destrcution of a valuable
fossil specimen by a gentleman who heard about a procedure but could not
be bothered to look it up, with the result that a compound which should
have been applied in vapor phase was used in a whole-bath solution. No
more problem. No more fossil.

There is not enough information here to do our colleague in Brazil much
good and potential for a lot of harm. Instead of second-guessing, trying
to re-create procedures from memory or otherwise act outside our own
expertise, why not take the time tro find out who specializes in this
sort of thing and steer our colleague in the right direction?

By the way, another post referring to US law was incorrect. Mummies are
considered to be international heritage under several treaties and
conventions, and their legal status is very different from that of
natural history specimens. The Getty Conservation Institute has done a
lot of work with this issue. Chances are, people on this list haven't.

The techniques that work with flooded material under one set of
circumstances may destroy it under another. Please take the time to find an
expert in the field. You wouldn't want an archaeological conservator
telling people how to manage natural history collections, right? The
drying described below may not be fast enough to prevent
biodeterioration. Find the people with the answers.

Sally Shelton
Director, Collections Care and Conservation

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|                San Diego, California   92112  USA                     |
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On Wed, 23 Aug 1995, Todd Newberry wrote:

> Taxacomers --
> I agree with this prescription -- it is no joke.  Stanford sought to save
> an enormous number of books that were flooded a few years ago, and it went
> to NASA/AMES to find a vacuum chamber big enough to take big batches of
> books at a time, and did just this procedure, and it worked.
> -- Todd Newberry
> Santa Cruz CAL
> taxa at cats.ucsc.edu
> ****
> On Wed, 23 Aug 1995, GB:'X0B$4fAB92GB5 wrote:
> > Dear Paulo,
> >
> > I am wonder if you have large vacuum chamber available. Put mummy onto 5 cm
> > strong layer of silicon granules (used to keep instruments dry) and slowly
> > decrease of air pressure. Repeat three times.
> >
> > Regards
> >
> > Vratislav Richard Bejsak
> > Coleoptera - Australia, Tenebrionidae of World
> > Konevova 1658/110
> > 130 00 Prague 3 Zizkov
> > CZECH Rep.
> > voice: (42+2) 270 849
> > fax  : (41+2) 311 6545
> > email: 76711,1261 at compuserve.com
> > (I am from Australia, this address is for one or two years)
> >

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