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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM IN CRACOW

  • 23 November 2015

    The long-term programme of conservation of a collection of unique Egyptian fabrics from the Archaeological Museum in Cracow – 2015

    The main part of the Egyptian collection of the Archaeological Museum in Cracow comes from the so-called Field Museum No 2 established at the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade. The collection and the unusual undertaking were the work of Jarosław Sagan, a pre-war custodian of the Museum in Truskawiec, a spa belonging to the Dzieduszycki family. In 1940, after the outbreak of the war, having survived the hazards which had befell many of the Poles, he got through to Syria where the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade commanded by General Stanisław Kopański was being formed at the French army. The collection was created with the contribution of Jarosław Sagan's heroic comrades-in-arms from the Brigade.


    In 1942 the Brigade was transformed into the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, enlarged by the Poles who had been recently evacuated from Russia. In 1943 the Brigade became part of the Polish Army in the East, mainly made up from the Polish forces which had come from Russia. As a part of the Polish Corps commanded by General Władysław Anders, it fought on the Italian Front, i.a., in the Battle of Monte Casino. Sagan, however, remained in Egypt, together with part of the Division.


    During his stay in Syria and Palestine, enchanted by the wealth of the Ancient cultures, he began to collect archaeological artefacts. The collection, also called a 'Museum in a Backpack' by his fellow soldiers, was lost in the maelstrom of war at least twice and in one case when Sagan, badly wounded, was in hospital in Alexandria. However, Jarosław's passion made him start again every time. Frequently, he and his colleagues packed and carried crates under enemy fire, trying to save valuable objects from destruction. Finally, with the consent of General Marian Kukiel Field Museum No 2 was officially created on May 5th, 1943. The crates and their custodian were transported to Iraq and then to Palestine where many valuable artefacts were also collected. 


    Finally, after his return to Egypt in 1947, Sagan decided to sail with an army transport to England. A year later he returned to Poland, bringing 148 crates with several thousand artefacts. Sagan donated the archaeological artefacts and a collection of marvellous Arab garments and various Islamic objects of everyday and cult use from Egypt and Sudan to the Museum of the Academy of Learning.
    The set of fabrics currently under conservation in the Archaeological Museum comes from the above mentioned collection.

    Part of the collection has been included in a financial project of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Małopolskie Voivodeship.


    The main aim of the Long-term project of conservation of the collection of unique Egyptian fabrics - 2015 conducted by the Archaeological Museum in Cracow is stopping the degradation of the fabrics, their conservation and improvement of the storage conditions.
    The ancient fabrics suffered some physico-chemical changes which have weakened them considerably. The whole structure of the fabrics has been degraded. This is a result of the natural process of aging of the threads, the way they were used and stored. There are visible abrasions, stains, discolourations and deformations on their surfaces.


    Aging results in a decrease of strength and partial mass, an increased solubility and changes in the degree of crystallinity, which heightens the fabrics' biodegradability. Both the excessive and insufficient humidity are harmful for fabrics, but the worst are its sudden oscillations. The changes in the humidity of the air influence the dimensions of the tissues, causing also their friction. Low humidity leads to drying of the tissues, which become brittle, and high humidity lowers their resistance and fosters the development of microorganisms.
    Each of the artefacts qualified for conservation has been photographed, drawn, and a description of their state of preservation has been made.


    We perform the following conservation procedures:


    - disinfection of the fabrics with para-chloro-meta-cresol vapour
    - analysis of the degradation of tissue with tests for the resistance to a cleaning agent (suggested: aqueous solution of Rokafenol).
    - cleaning the fabric: the way of cleaning is usually established after the analyses.
    - protection against wet cleaning.
    - wet cleaning.
    - preparation of duplicative materials.
    - removal of the protective materials.
    - preparation of the conservation material (silk, cotton, wool, linen, raw silk thread).
    - securing the damaged fragments or the whole surface, depending on the degree of damage, on a new base.
    - preparation of conservation documentation.
    - preparation of artefacts for storage and display.
    - preparation of recommendations for conservation.

     

     

    Krzysztof Babraj

     

    1. Shawl Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; complete, state before conservation; visible holes and fraying of the silk fabric; holes and fraying of the silk tassels; numerous spots, decolourations, deformations, whole shawl dirty.
    1. Shawl Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; complete, state before conservation; visible holes and fraying of the silk fabric; holes and fraying of the silk tassels; numerous spots, decolourations, deformations, whole shawl dirty.
    2. Shawl Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state before conservation; visible holes and fraying of the silk fabric; spots, decolourations, deformations, whole fragment dirty.
    2. Shawl Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state before conservation; visible holes and fraying of the silk fabric; spots, decolourations, deformations, whole fragment dirty.
    3. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state before conservation; visible holes and fraying of the silk fabric and tassels; spots, decolourations, deformations, whole fragment dirty.
    3. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state before conservation; visible holes and fraying of the silk fabric and tassels; spots, decolourations, deformations, whole fragment dirty.
    4. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation; visible base made of a stiff net added in order to perform wet cleaning.
    4. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation; visible base made of a stiff net added in order to perform wet cleaning.
    5. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation; visible traces of wet cleaning in aqueous solution of Rokafenol.
    5. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation; visible traces of wet cleaning in aqueous solution of Rokafenol.
    6. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation.
    6. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation.
    7. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation.
    7. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation.
    8. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation.
    8. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state during conservation.
    9. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state after conservation.
    9. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state after conservation.
    10. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state after conservation.
    10. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; fragment, state after conservation.
    11. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; complete, state after conservation.
    11. Shawl, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.17; complete, state after conservation.
    12. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; complete, front, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; fraying and missing fragments of the silk threads fastening the embroidery; dirty.
    12. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; complete, front, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; fraying and missing fragments of the silk threads fastening the embroidery; dirty.
    12. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; complete, front, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; fraying and missing fragments of the silk threads fastening the embroidery; dirty.
    12. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; complete, front, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; fraying and missing fragments of the silk threads fastening the embroidery; dirty.
    13. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; fragment, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; frayings and missing pieces of silk threads fastening the embroidery.
    13. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; fragment, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; frayings and missing pieces of silk threads fastening the embroidery.
    14. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; fragment, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; frayings and missing pieces of silk threads fastening the embroidery.
    14. Outfit of a Sudanese woman, Inv. no. MAK/AS/E.2; fragment, state before conservation; visible: holes, missing gold and sliver lamella from the threads used for embroidery; frayings and missing pieces of silk threads fastening the embroidery.

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