West Dean students restore Roman artefact

Ronnie Kam works on the Roman amphora
Ronnie Kam works on the Roman amphora

A ‘3D puzzle’ has been completed by students in a bid to restore an important Roman artefact.

The team from West Dean College were praised for their ‘great work’ in conserving the Roman amphora from the first century.

The amphora was originally discovered during archaeological excavations at London Bridge Station.

However, after years on display the bonds of the 126 fragments were discoloured so The Museum of London asked students to dismantle the vessel and clean them.

The project was led by second-year student, Ronnie Kam who works in the Conservation Office of the Hong Kong Government and came to West Dean to gain advanced skills in conservation.

She said: “The amphora was a 3D puzzle that required a lot of thinking and meticulous documentation.

“I have a passion for fine detail and scientific research so being project team leader was another area of training for me.”

The amphora has been on display at London Bridge Underground station, as part of a display of objects from building excavations, since 1999.

Alterations to the display meant that the piece could be sent to the college for conservation.

“Working on live projects at the college tests our knowledge and we learn from the tutors how to explain the treatment to clients and give advice. When I return to working with museums this will help me in advising curators,” said Ronnie.

David Bowsher, director of research and education at the museum, said: “It is wonderful to see this Roman amphora return in such good condition from West Dean.

“The students have done a great job of cleaning and conserving this precious object, helping to ensure it will be around for people to study and admire for many years to come.”

The students’ work was also praised by Jackie Keily, curator at the Museum of London.

“We are delighted that the amphora has formed part of a student project at West Dean and that it received such careful and caring attention,” she said.

“As can be imagined, it had become rather dirty after its years of display in an underground station and so it is wonderful to see it now looking so much better.”

“The amphora will be stored in the museum’s archaeological archive which is used by many visiting researchers each year.”

For more information about West Dean College and the courses it offers, visit www.westdean.org.uk.