Most archaeological objects (i.e. all finds that are retrieved from the soil) that need to be restored are extremely dirty and corroded. In Kalkriese, the largest group of finds consists of metal objects. This is mostly due to the soil properties, which do not provide good preservation conditions for organic materials. Well-preserved organic materials are the exception: if at all, they are only found in direct contact with metal objects, for example wood fragments which have been preserved in the socket of a lance tip, or textile remains adhering to coins.
The restoration of the finds aims at unveiling their old, original surfaces. In all cases, this is done manually with various instruments and tools. This work is carried out with the aid of a binocular eyepiece, allowing restorators to see each detail of the respective object. All stains and materials corroded onto the archaeological artifact are removed layer by layer. Sometimes the restorators are in for a nice surprise, for example when they uncover beautiful ardornments that were invisible before. It is also quite common that finds are broken. Then they are reassembled and glued together.
The uncovering of an artifact’s outer shape, adornments, inscriptions and traces of tool use form the basis of the archaeologists’ work, who can only scientifically evaluate and classify a find after these steps have been taken.