In one of the graves of Szigetszentmiklós we found
a child’s skeleton, which was in a very bad condition, except for the skull. We carefully broke up the soil around it and lifted it “in situ” from the ground by
digging under it.
Unfortunately, the corolla had partly slipped off the head already in the past, so a part of it was unfolded only in small fragments. But as one part of the corolla was conserved in it original position on the skull, the position of the fallen parts could be reconstructed as well.
The headdress consists of complex materials: it had
a bast-like base covered in linen-weaved cotton fabric and a thin copper plate laid onto it. Double rows of metal and textile wire spirals were archedly sewn up to it and beads decorated every element in the centre. The copper plate might have been gilded, which could be verified by later examinations. Some traces of gilding could be found on the metal stringed spirals too. The plate was almost completely corroded, being in a very bad condition: it crumbled and broke at the slightest touch. The whole object has become almost unsubstantial; its rigid, dry, fragile condition seemed to exclude any traditional cleaning processes.
As a first step, I removed the contaminations under a microscope with the help of an insect needle. I cleaned it with an ion-exchange resin which is a proven cleaning solution for objects with complex materials.
I carefully stitched the corolla parts onto a thin silk base-layer following the original order and put them into the ion-exchange resin. I was monitoring the pH continually and cared about not overcleaning the object as at some parts it was kept together only by the corrosion of the metal threads. After a short, careful rinse I sewed the parts with an untwisted, coloured silk thread to an acid-free cardboard covered with linen. I had to glue the copper plate parts, but besides that I didn’t treat the object with any chemicals. At the end, I created a storage box for it of acid-free cardboard. Appropriate photo documentation of the process and reconstruction illustrations were also created.