Developing Carbon-fibre Reinforced Epoxy Dowels for the Reassembly of a Fragmented Egyptian Coffin Lid

Authors: Ana Maly, Julia Mitterbauer and Marco Rican
Mentor: Wolfgang Baatz, o. Univ. Prof. Mag. Dipl.-Ing., Department Head; Nanke C. Schellmann, Dr.rer.nat. MA (RCA), Senior Tutor & Research Scientist

Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna (Austria)
Study programme: Conservation and Restoration
Specialization: Conservation-restoration of wooden objects, 3rd year of study  


MALY MITTERBAUER RICANThe 3000-year-old Egyptian anthropoid wooden coffin lid, belonging to the priestess But-haar-chons (3rd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 21/22), is constructed of major wooden boards that are held together by cone-shaped dowels, wooden nails, mortis and tenon joints, as well as loose tenon joints.
Due to serious structural damage, restoration measures were carried out in the mid-20th century. However, those restoration measures were neither executed consistently nor fully completed, thereby resulting in the misalignment of some major wooden boards.
Subsequently, the re-integration of the detached stilt and many loose polychrome fragments became impossible, leaving the entire object in poor condition.
To re-align and re-join the wooden boards into correct position, using only the holes drilled during the previous restoration campaign, novel dowels were developed in order to in order to connect non-aligned holes through a customised form and bear the considerable weight of the coffin lid. Those dowels were formed in situ once the construction elements of the lid were correctly aligned using epoxy resin reinforced with specifically manufactured plaited carbon fibre cord.

Short biographies

ANA MALY (1982), JULIA MITTERBAUER  (1981) and MARCO RICAN (1982) have been studying Conservation and Restoration of Wooden Objects at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna since 2011. Previously, they worked on ethnographic objects from Polynesia and are now undertaking a major project in relation to the conservation of an Egyptian coffin lid from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.