Monday, 21 May 2018

Object Assessment: M.0099 medicine container from Nigeria

This object with catalogue number M.0099 comes from UCL Ethnographic Collections. It is described as a medicine container with twisted copper wire on the outside, inside it is a piece of ant-hill to be used as medicine and to be worn on the waist (Nigeria).

a)  b)

Figure 1. Front view (a) and reverse view (b) of M.0099.

The body is shaped cylindrically with a diameter of 3.5cm and the total length is 8.8cm. The thickness of the copper wire is about 0.1cm

After visual examination, it can be assumed that the metal structure is fragile and brittle, is broken on the lower part, the surface is corroded and has some small cracks and dirt (Figure 2). The entirely metal body is covered by green light corrosion. Therefore, there is an orange spot that it might indicate active corrosion. With a macro lens it can be seen black incrustations on the surface (Figure 3).

Figure 2. Close up where it can be seen the corrosion and the cracks.

Figure 3. Image showing the black incrustations on the top of the green corrosion.

To see if the metal structure was in good condition, an X-Ray was taken. The object was exposed twice with different settings. The first one was 80kV for one minute and the second one was 70kV for one minute too. Lower settings are recommended when the object is thin and highly deteriorated. The X-Ray demonstrated the interior of the metal structure is in good condition (Figure 4).

Figure 4. X-Ray of the object shows the condition of the metal structure.

To prevent further deterioration of the object it would be recommended to isolate and rehouse it, and to ensure proper handling as it is fragile. Suitable environmental controls are also recommended.

This post refers to coursework done for ARCLG142 (2017-18), one of the core courses of the UCL MA  Principles of Conservation. As part of their assessed work for this course, students were asked to investigate objects from the UCL Ethnography Collections at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Here they present a summary of their main conclusions. We hope you enjoy our work! Comments are most welcome.  

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