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This archaeological bronze object is a cheekpiece for a horse. It is one of a collection of bronze objects being cleaned for display once our Nabatean/Near eastern galleries are renovated. This object, which had a significant amount of burial dirt and corrosion on the surface, was cleaned under a microscope (photo on left) with an unusual tool….thorns. Many archaeological bronze objects require mechanical cleaning to remove stubborn dirt and corrosion, there are a number of tools available to do this but none are as effective as a thorn. Micro scalpel blades and dental tools are sometimes used, though metal tools can scratch the surface of the delicate object being cleaned. Sharpened bamboo sticks can also be used, though they are rarely strong enough and often break. Thorns are sharp enough to get into small crevices and strong enough to remove stubborn dirt and corrosion without breaking, though not strong enough to scratch the delicate metal surface of the objects being cleaned. You can see this object on display in gallery 149 along with many other bronze objects that the conservator will be cleaning over the next few weeks.
Image Credit: Cheekpiece for a Horse, Luristan/Iran, 8th Century BCE-7th Century BCE, bronze, 5 ¼ x 4 ½ in., Cincinnati Art Museum, Israel and Caroline Wilson Fund, 1947.580.