Conservation and restoration of small finds from Ephesos

In order to immediately and continuously conserve and restore the small finds of the current excavations, the excavation house in Selçuk has an attached conservation laboratory.

The tasks of the conservation laboratory primarily consist in preserving archaeological finds and to reconstruct object-related information for archaeological research. The range of materials encompasses several material groups. 


The conservation work often already begins during the excavation when finds must be extracted from the surrounding soil. Particularly fragile objects must be stabilized first so that the finds can be safely transported to the conservation laboratory.


The treatment of the finds following their recovery includes a condition report – sometimes with a sketch of damage or measures –, the examination of the finds with the subsequent development of a conservation concept, the actual conservation and restoration as well as finally a guarantee of their secure storage.

Pottery and metal finds are the largest group of finds regarding quantity while particularly the metal objects are prone to diverse decay mechanisms due to their deposition in the ground and the appearance and also workmanship of the objects are sometimes severely affected. Through the use of a variety of mechanical methods it is possible to make fine details of the former surface, such as tool marks and decoration, visible again.

Since no object is made alike, conservation techniques and concepts must be critically scrutinized for every find. The basis for the selection of necessary and appropriate methods is the comprehensive evaluation of its condition and material which makes it necessary to study the objects by phenomenological and when appropriate also scientific means. The subsequently used conservation techniques must meet strict requirements since procedures result in irreversible changes to the object that could then compromise later analyses or also the interpretation of the find. Thus, in addition to the preservation of the material remains and the exploitation of information, one of the most important objectives is ensuring the authenticity of the finds.

Preventive conservation

In order to ensure the preservation of the finds for the future methods of the so-called preventive conservation are applied. This means that damaging factors that might have an effect on the finds during their storage are determined and evaluated. On the basis of this knowledge the ambient conditions during storage must be adjusted in order to prevent and counteract their further decay.