During the period between the 25th and the 28th of May, 2015, JICA GEM-CC Project conducted the training course on “Organic” in GEM-CC. The purpose of the training course was to offer an introduction to parchment for GEM-CC conservators who had little knowledge of the material. The course was focused on the theoretical principles needed to understand the material and the ability to identify conservation requirements of individual parchment items together with up-to-date information on the subject and the relevant scientific research. 11 trainees attended the course. In contrast to previous, similar courses in textile conservation (presented on four previous occasions), this was a one-off opportunity serving to present useful knowledge on this proteinaceous material to the GEM-CC conservators and to contribute necessary diversity to the comprehensive category of organic conservation as a whole.
We welcomed Ms. Yuki Uchida, conservator at The Archive Center, United Kingdom. On the occasion, various aspects of parchment conservation were discussed: the manufacturing process, typical formats of parchment items, physical and chemical properties of mammalian animal skin, identification of animal species, deterioration process and causes, an overview of conservation and preservation approaches in the UK and the latest scientific projects in which her home institution has been involved.
There was a study visit to the exhibition galleries and the conservation studios in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir (EM) and Coptic Museum. The opportunity allowed the attendees to become familiarized with Egyptian parchment artifacts and their display methods. Remarkably, we all benefited from the visit with one particularly significant finding. It became apparent that several parchment items in EM had been displayed and incorrectly identified and catalogued as papyrus in the past. Even observation through display cabinet glass was sufficient for some GEM-CC conservators to suspect the possibility that items had been wrongly identified as papyrus. This was such a promising outcome to the course which was a unique opportunity intended to familiarise participants with the material.