Unlocking Doha’s Past: Object Conservation at UCL-Qatar

Eleni Asderaki-Tzoumerkioti at the microscope.

Eleni Asderaki-Tzoumerkioti at the microscope.

Peering through a microscope, Eleni Asderaki-Tzoumerkioti carefully scrapes at the blue-green corrosion covering a metal artifact. Eleni has been a conservator of antiquities since 1985, and is an Honorary Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Archaeology since 2002. She specialises in glass, pigments, and metals. This latter expertise guides her as she conserves artifacts excavated during the Joint QM-UCL Qatar Old Doha Rescue Excavation in 2013-2014.

Objects before Conservation

Objects before Conservation

Conservation of these artefacts is critical; after excavation the artefacts can corrode remarkably, sometimes disintegrating completely while kept in storage. Conservation work both preserves artefacts and can help archaeologists identify details that were missed in excavation or obscured by corrosion.

Joint QM-UCL Qatar Old Doha Rescue Excavation

Joint QM-UCL Qatar Old Doha Rescue Excavation

The Joint QM-UCL Qatar Old Doha Rescue Excavation team recovered several metal objects including rings, coins, and locks. Through conservation, Eleni has brought the artefacts back to life. Delicate scrollwork adorns the lock that Eleni is working on, but when she turns the lock over, there is a big surprise: the lock has been forced open!

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The puncture in the back of the lock, revealed by conservation.

There is a large puncture in the back of the lock, only revealed under the careful work of a conservator. Eleni also X-rays the objects, revealing the inner workings of the lock.

X-ray of the interior of the locks.

X-ray of the interior of the locks.

As research continues on the artefacts revealed by the Joint QM-UCL Qatar Old Doha Rescue Excavation, we gain insights into daily life in early 20th century Doha.

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