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Workshop on the conservation and restoration of ceramic objects

Workshop on the conservation and restoration of ceramic objects – 5 to 9 February 2024

The Workshop on the Conservation and Restoration of Ceramic Objects was held from 5 to 9 February 2024 at the Technical and Administrative Area of the Cláudio Torres Mértola Museum, for undergraduate, master’s and PhD students in Archaeology at the University of Évora. The training was coordinated by the Museum and by Dr Susana Gómez Martinez (Assistant Professor at the University of Évora and member of the Board of the Mértola Archaeological Site) and organised by technician Guilhermina Bento, head of the Ceramic Materials Conservation and Restoration office.

This Workshop had a very practical component with the aim of sharing techniques and methodologies for intervening in archaeological ceramics from a conservation and restoration perspective. During those days, the 5 participants (Ana Rita Viegas Martins, Isabel Rego, Alexandre Mateu Picó, Mariana Lopes and Janaice da Silva) glued together and consolidated fragments and objects from the Islamic private bath on the Slopes of Mértola Castle.

Here are the participants’ opinions:

Alexandre Mateu Picó, a PhD student at the University of Valencia, says that ‘the workshop is a great introduction to the ceramics restoration subject. You learn and consolidate knowledge on the cleaning, glueing, registration and conservation of the pieces. The additional explanations on medieval ceramics, archaeological practice and musealisation, as well as the privileged location from the point of view of the immovable heritage and its management and research, make it a highly recommended activity’.”.

Janaice Bertolo da Silva, who graduated in History from the University of Western Paraná (Brazil) and is a student on the Master’s programme in Islamic and Medieval Mediterranean History at the University of Évora, says that ‘participating in the ceramics preservation project at the Mértola Museum was an extremely rewarding experience. I felt enormous pleasure in contributing to the preservation of the region’s history and culture. With each piece glued together, it was as if I was rescuing a little piece of the past. It was a meticulous and challenging job, but which gave me great satisfaction. Knowing that my work will help keep the memory of Mértola alive for future generations gives me a sense of pride and fulfilment’.

Ana Martins, a 1st year History and Archaeology undergraduate at the University of Évora, said: ‘When I signed up I didn’t really know what to expect, but this week exceeded my expectations. It was very interesting to learn about how to mechanically clean the ceramics, all the material and the glueing process. The technical team is very helpful, friendly and informative and the work, although it requires a great deal of patience, is very rewarding and leaves us with a sense of pride at the end of the day, which flew by. I was very happy to be able to spend a week learning about something I love, in a wonderful place like Mértola, and very grateful to have had this incredible experience in my first year as an undergraduate’”.

Mariana Lopes, a 1st year History and Archaeology undergraduate at the University of Évora, says that ‘the experience provided by the conservation and restoration workshop in Mértola was extremely positive and interesting. Not only did it expand our horizons, but it made us realise that each piece must be worked on in such a way as to be able to extract as much information as possible from it. Something that may never have crossed our minds, as I had never been in contact with this type of work, but I hope to do it again! I’m very grateful to Guilhermina and Lígia, who were willing to show us a new horizon, provide us with new experiences and offer us a whole new learning experience.

Mértola is a fascinating land | Everyone digs here | Archaeologists with a spade | and curators with a scalpel.

I hope I’ll have the opportunity to experience something like this again!’.

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