Alfred Lucas's notes on conservation
of objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun

A. Lucas, 10/6/43: Notes on work done on some of the objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Meant for private use and reference only
In addition, formal notes were made by me on many of the Index Cards
giving treatment of objects.

The importance of these notes is now such that we hope that Lucas would forgive us for making them public - Jaromir Malek

Concept & editing: Jaromir Malek
Scanning: Kent Rawlinson, Jenni Navratil
Transcription: Lindsay Allen
Coordination: Elizabeth Fleming and Cat Warsi

Season 1928-9

Page 0


Tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen

Season 1928-29

A Lucas

(Temp. No 15 1/10/28 80.7)

Page 0 verso

Cleaned with ammonia
Cleaned gold with ammonia & flint with water
Cleaned gold with ammonia & carnelian with water
Cleaned with water and soft rag

Cleaned gold with ammonia + shell with water
Cleaned gold with ammonia + inlay with water
Two tiny pieces of inlay came out & were refastened with Necol
Cleaned gold with ammonia + serpentine with water

Cleaned with ammonia
Cleaned with 10% sulphuric acid &
afterwards with ammonia
Cleaned with ammonia

Cleaned with water
Cleaned with damp sponge
Cleaned wood with damp sponge & mount with ammonia
Cleaned wood with damp sponge & blade & mount with ammonia

Page 1

(a) Amulets
Gold pendants
Flint (broken) gold mounted. Very definite grain like wood: brown
Carnelian, gold mounted
Resin (very dark) One large ring with gold mount
for threading and one larger ring, broken
Shell (like cockle-shell) gold mounted
Gold with inlaid figure of bird in glass some
of which is white and practically transparent
Green Serpentine: gold mounted
The gold mounts of the carnelian + serpentine
have been fixed on with a red resin
The serpentine piece has been broken & repaired
anciently with red resin
(b) Two small model scimitars in gold
Two model knives in copper or bronze
One tiny vase of silver
Heel-shaped piece (thin, flat) of silver with
thin sheet gold doubled over one face + round edges. The gold has slight pattern
(c) Two miniature flint tools. Stone is brown & has marked grain
Two small wooden (hard red wood) tools
One wooden handle with electrum mount but tool missing
One copper (or bronze) tool in wooden handle with silver mount.

Page 1 verso

Washed with warm water

Cleaned with damp sponge
Washed with water
Washed with water
Washed with water: removed resin from surface with alcohol
Washed with water
Washed with water
Washed with water
Washed with water: gold cleaned with ammonia

Cleaned with ammonia: washed with water

Washed with water

Page 2

(d) Four small stone hones in 6 pieces, two of the
hones being broken
Stone is hard, grey, very crystalline & on break
looks like marble or quartz. It gives no effervescence
with HCl & can just be scratched with a knife

(e) 2 small wooden bottles (hard, dark-red wood)
1 Armlet - crystalline limestone
3 Hair rings " " one broken
1 Bracelet Lapis lazuli (in 4 pieces)
Pieces of crystalline limestone Bracelet (wide) with lapis inlay in gold wire frames 3 pieces
Many Glass rods (thin, dark blue, light blue, yellow)
Several miscellaneous glass beads
Part of an object: curved like crook of stick
with copper or bronze core: inlaid with black glass
and crystalline limestone, which in turn are
inlaid with gold and red glass respectively. At
one end is part of a gold fasten.

(f) Large Model Hoe - Blade Missing
Bronze (or copper): handle has inscriptions
inlaid in gold: blade has been wrapped round
with narrow gold foil simulating flat fibre.

(g) Colours etc
Empty shell one half of a bivalve: no signs of having
contained colour (somewhat mussel-shaped
length roughly double width)

Page 3

(Under 507)
Natural orpiment in small lumps & in powder
Contaminated with dust & dirt from floor:
this sifted + picked out as far as possible. Has been
enclosed in linen of which pieces remain.

Small lumps of Galena : has been enclosed
in linen, of which pieces remain.

Red Ochre. Small lumps of good red
... colour. From rounded edges of pieces
& from fineness of material it has probably
been separated from coarser material by levigation
and pressed together while wet.

Coarse Blue Powder. Is artificial frit: has been
enclosed in linen of which pieces remain.

Cake Greenish-Blue Pigment in Shell (Shell as described)
Surface & corners rounded: has probably been used
Cannot be examined chemically without disfigurement. Probably

An irregular lump and a cone-shaped
piece (artificially-shaped) of fine grained white
amorphous material that effervesces with
HCl + readily dissolved. Free from sulphate
(Repeat: confirmed)
Is amorphous calcium carbonate (chalk) (carbonate of lime) (Continued)

Page 3 verso

Cleaned gold with ammonia & faience
with damp sponge. Repaired ornamentation
with Necol.

The thinner portions appear to be the original edges
& the thicker portions the centre where it has
been broken. One piece has what are possibly two original edges
practically at right angles to one another. (?)

Page 4

Trace of white amorphous material
adhering to inside of a shell (bivalve)
This is amorphous carbonate of lime (chalk)

Granular black powder in shell (bivalve)
This is chiefly insect excreta and decayed
leather and it is impossible to say of
what the original material consisted,
but probably some form of carbon

Red Pigment in Shell (Bivalve)
A cake of dark red material in two
pieces, partly covered by adherent black
material, which is decayed leather. This
was removed. The outer edges & upper surface
of the cake rounded & the material had
been used. The pigment is red ochre.

Bracelets 4
Blue glazed faience with gold-on-gesso
ornamentation - all being decorated at
the edges and 3 having cartouches.

620 (88)
Dark grey Material
In many fragments: thin 1-6 mms:
slightly curved: crystalline and fibrous-looking on fracture:
looks like a secondary & not a primary material & resembles somewhat iron or manganese slag (more
like latter). The Chemical Dept, Cairo report that
it contains tin - they obtained a tiny bead of tin by
reduction. Sent to Mines Dept 5/12/28 for opinion

Page 4 verso

Cleaned wood with damp sponge
Cleaned gilt with ammonia
Cleaned reeds & colours with water
Refixed in reeds & colours with Necol

Cleaned slate with water
Cleaned gilt with ammonia
Cleaned colours with water
Refixed end with Necol

Cleaned wood with damp sponge & gilt
with ammonia
Cleaned colour with water
Refixed colour & loose gilt with Necol

Cleaned slate with water: also colours
Cleaned gilt with ammonia
Refixed loose end & calcite with Necol

Cleaned wood with damp sponge
Cleaned gilt with ammonia
Cleaned colours with water

Page 5

(a) Brown & black wood: gesso-gilt decoration
Reeds: thin dark blue glass slips (flat) 2 & 1 broken
Colours: dark blue: light blue: black - all
three glass: white (slightly brown on surface,
but whiter underneath) flint
(b) Slate: ends wood, gesso-gilt, one missing
Reeds: None
Colours: Black: natural, soft stone probably
black serpentine or steatite
Red: glass
(c) Wood - gesso-gilt. (Gold plum colour)
Much fungus on under side
Reeds: None
Colours: Yellowish: calcite
One missing
(d) Slate ends wood, gesso-gilt, one loose
Reeds: None
Colours: Black: serpentine or steatite
Red: Yellowish translucent calcite with
red cement underneath
(e) Very dark-red wood, almost black, with
separate ends, gesso-gilt, pegged on; one loose
Gesso has been bored by insects in places
Reeds None

Page 5 verso

Refixed loose gold & colours with Necol

Cleaned with ammonia & replaced loose parts with Necol

Cleaned with water & gold of (e) & (f) with ammonia

Removed dust with soft brush
Treated with 3 coats celluloid in amyl
acetate. (H.C. afterwards waxed)

Page 6

(e) (Contd)
Colours: Black: glass
Red: Yellowish translucent calcite with
red cement underneath
(f) Wooden end of Palette (large)
Gesso-gilt (gilt plum colour)
In bad condition.

(a) Hair-ring. Yellow glass
(b) Broken knob. Blue-glazed faience
(c) Ear Stud (2 pts). Very dark red resin
(black by reflected light) ornamented with
crystalline limestone & translucent calcite
with red cement underneath. Tubular fasteners
of gold
(d) Half of almost identical stud-fastener missing
(e) Dome-shaped black object. Is black imitation
colour from palette & consists of serpentine or steatite
No eff. with HCl
(f) Black cone (small) Gold mounted & red cement
underneath. Material is serpentine or calcite

Wooden stool (3 legs) white painted
Paint is calcium carbonate

Page 6 verso

Where minimum
used & that
too hot
(not to sink in)
the white
remains unchanged
Excess wax
cannot be
removed by heat
but by hot

Removed dust & fungus with soft brush
Cleaned gold with ammonia
Treated with three coats of celluloid in
amyl acetate. (HC waxed)
Repaired with Necol (Several pieces of ornamentation
broken off & found on floor

Removed dust & fungus with soft brush
Treated with 3 coats of celluloid (H.C. waxed)

Cleaned wood with sponge & water
Cleaned gold with ammonia

Removed adherent paraffin wax with Xylol
Cleaned warm water

Page 7

Stool. Wooden
White painted. White in calcium carbonate
Ornamentation between legs (Union of U
+L Egypt) is covered with thin sheet gold
Legs are raised on metal pieces (2 metals
a black one for rims
a brass-coloured one
? both bronze.)
Much fungus on white. Claws = gold

Miniature gold vase
Cleaned with ammonia

Chair - wooden: painted white
Legs raised on metal pieces (? bronze)
white = CaCO3: no SO3. Much fungus in places

Stand for Gaming Board
Wooden with gold decoration: claws ivory

Slate: in two pieces
Ends missing (probably wood covered with gesso-gilt)
Reeds None
Colours None
Very white (for eyeballs) = glass
Slightly yellowish white (for inlay) = crystalline limestone
Yellow = translucent calcite
Black = natural soft stone ? serpentine or steatite
Blue (Dark + Light)

Page 8

Rolls of Material (5)
Black flattened: have been tied in a bundle
Woven fabric (linen) & very disintegrated
Covered on outside with thick coating
of salt crystals
Much Cl
No SO3
No alkalinity to phenolphthalein.

541 Contents
(Wine Jar
with inscription
in hieratic)
Brown (light to dark): largely a mass of small
crystals. Mostly light brown but dark brown in places and almost white in others
With HCl some effervescence, on boiling partly
soluble, Solution dark brown
In water solution much chloride & sulphate
On ignition, blackness at first & then gradually
becomes lighter-coloured
Flame Test
With HCl - K flame, very definite
Alkalinity. Water soln. alkaline to litmus
Obtained good positive tests for K, Cl, SO3, CO2 and
tartrate (silver mirror): Negative tests for resin & Ca
(For Ca only tried flame test as no Am. Oxalate available)
Could not find yeast cells under microscope
Almost certainly impure aryol, hence wine residue
Retested for Ca in
Cairo - slight
amount present
- very definite

Page 8 verso

A large missing piece found later: cleaned &
pieces of the silver coating that had fallen off
re-stuck with Necol
Re-tested. Is Ag now largely AgCl + Ag2S
Very thin.

Page 9

398 & 387
Writing Boards
398. Wood covered with plaster (? gesso) and thin
gold. Waxed by H.C
387. Wood covered with plaster (? gesso) and a very
thin coating of very dark-grey (almost black)
material, which has been silver and is now
partly chloride (blackened by exposure as usual)
and partly sulphide, which latter is largely in
the form of minute glistening crystals on the
surface. (Waxed by H.C.)

No Number
Dark red wood, partly bare - a bird has
remains of colour. To clean the wood used a
damp sponge & for the bird benzine

No Number
Small ivory figure - arms separate
Cleaned with benzine. One arm split in two (This

No Number
Head Rest
Wood covered with gesso-gilt - very much
discoloured (purplish)
Cleaned with soft brush & ammonia and
afterwards with warm water. The purplish colour
could not be removed.

Page 10

Fire Stock
Dark reddish fairly soft wood. Thin coating of
black material in all the holes, probably
not due to burning. Scraped a little of the
black material off and extracted with acetone & filtered
Solution slightly yellowish and brown-yellow solid
left on evaporation: aromatic smell. Re-dissolved
in alcohol, filtered & evaporated to dryness
Slight yellow resin-like solid left (slight
aromatic smell on warming). Almost certainly
resin. The bare wood scraped & treated in
the same manner gave no such residue.

Includes 596a Fan
596, 599
Fan Handles
Waxed by H.C. Too fragile to allow of
cleaning: any dust and dirt present
did not show after waxing and the colours
(especially of the bark inlay of the sticks &
bows) were bright and good
Supported on stretched copper wires for waxing
Any slight excess wax removed by a hot knife

Fan Handle. Covered with sheet gold. Cleaned with
ammonia & warm water. Knob, copper or more probably
bronze inlaid with gold. Cleaned with ammonia, after
removing disintegrated leather that had dropped
on. Cu2O oxide on the bronze, which was not
removed by the ammonia.

Page 11

466 Bed
Framework (wood) covered with fairly thick sheet
Cleaned with ammonia & warm water
HC. waxed webbing.

377 Bed
Framework (wood) covered with gesso & thin
gold foil. Wood, black ? ebony
Dusted & waxed directly (HC) without
cleaning. Removed excess wax by blasting

379 Shields
Wood: openwork: in many pieces
On back what looks like woven fabric in places
In other places small pieces of hide or leather (thin)
Waxed by HC. Backed with linen

545 Shield
Partly covered with animal skin (fawn colour) with
hair still partly on
H.C. treated with die. Celluloid soln (in 50% Amyl
Acetate & 50% Acetone). Skin came out very good
colour. Treated with hot wax: darkened

600 Fan
H.C. waxed: Ebony handle: Bark decoration:
Red colour on parts of decoration - ? gold
bark. (Did not critically examine before it was waxed)

A small bunch of the fine tops of ostrich
feathers. H.C. waxed on glass. Very fair result
but no "fluffiness" left

Page 12

596 (d)
Wood covered with a series of cylinders of
thin gold, having a reddish coloured surface
A pattern with stars in yellow gold near
the upper end had the same reddish-coloured background
The dark red colour consists of an applied layer: when
heated, it first intumesces & then blackens & finally
leaves a pinkish residue, which is soluble in HCl
giving a colourless solution which does not give the
tests for Fe. During the heating a very definite
smell of burning nitrogenous matter (animal matter)
such as that of glue, is given off. The
coloured layer floats off with hot water & is partly
dissolved, producing a yellowish solution, which
on boiling froths (suggestive of glue) and gives a
smell of burning nitrogenous matter (e.g. glue)
Conclusion. The red is an applied coating which
consists of glue, coloured artificially. The quantity
of material available in too small to allow the
nature of the dye to be determined, but a pink-
coloured material is left on the gold when the
glue is burned off
Colour is insoluble in alcohol & acetone & xylol
& hence is not resin
Residue from water solution not sticky while wet.

Page 12 verso

In several instances in place of calcite for the
inlay there was a composition of much the same
colour. This did not contain CaCO3 & looked like
ochre, either alone or mixed with gypsum
Film of white definitely over the black ink
in several places & possibly in all. (H.C. thinks
film under black) G.A.W. grees that film over ink. Strange to say
however when film removed the black seems to come
off too. (See Lid 537 + panel 386)
Also Box 494
Cleaned with benzine after scraping + brushing
Repaired with Necol. Waxed by H.C
Inscription quite disappeared in spite of celluloid
(Query - whether sufficient celluloid.)

Lid of 547
Patches of thin white film similar to those on 592
somewhat translucent; more coherent & not so powdery as
592 & comes off in small flakes. Gives good tests
for calcium & for sulphate. Under microscope does
not appear crystalline: nothing distinctive
Insoluble in alcohol, acetone and water
Ignition. Will not burn & apparently unchanged
therefore not organic (i.e. not resin or gum)
HCl. Largely soluble
(Inscription in hieratic (black ink) H.C. treated with celluloid)
(Continued above)

Page 13

Wood (dark red)
(a) Headdress: gesso: painted white (Holes made by insects Blistered in places)
(b) Flail: Cu or bronze gilt
(c) Crook: Cu or bronze
(d) Collar: gesso-gilt
(e) Bracelet: gesso-gilt. (a) Waxed by H.C
(b) (c) (d) & (e). Cleaned with NH3 & warm water
(e) came very clean & looked more
like bronze than copper
A reddish paint had accumulated round the
eyes - cleaned this off with warm water.

Small: low. Wooden
Top & sides covered in part with very thin irregular powdery, white
coating which contained a fairly large proportion
of SO3, a little CO2 & no Cl. Evidently therefore not
entirely limestone dust, such as might have accumulated
in the tomb. Not the appearance nor thickness
of usual paint. Film seems to be adventitious
Waxed by H.C. (See 547 next page)

Wood covered with gesso-gilt. Much broken
Repaired by H.C.

Page 14

(Lid is 615
previous page)
Frame - ebony
Panels - red wood
Decorated with strips of ebony & red wood and
glass & calcite inlay
Cleaned with damp sponge
Repaired with Necol
Small irregular patches of white on surface (definite & good test for SO3). See 592 stool previous page
Waxed by HC. & further repairs made with wax.

Head Rest
(In box 547)
Wood covered with gesso-gilt - poor
Cleaned with water & ammonia
(Waxed by H.C.)

(344 Similar Vase)
Alabaster with glass & stone inlay
Treated by HC. Cleaned with soap & water & brush
Warmed. Waxed. Cleaned off excess wax wax with knife
& finally treated with cloth moistened with

Thin white coating (very slight)
(Inscription in hieratic. H.C. treated with celluloid)
Two more coats of celluloid given by A.L. after cleaning
Waxed by H.C. Inscription Still fairly legible. (See 615 previous page)

Page 15

Box lid
Ebony framework
Panels different wood & coated with thin
layer of light brown paint which was badly
flaking off. This paint was found to be a
mixture of oxide of iron & calcium sulphate (Ca: SO3)
Cleaned panels by gentle blowing & brushing
Cleaned framework with damp sponge
Treated with two coats of celluloid in amyl
acetate. (Repaired with Necol. H.C.)
Waxed by H.C. (Query. whether ebony of framework
warped slightly by water used Probably warped before.)

Wood covered with gesso-gilt except face & hands
which had been painted flesh colour (missing on chin)
Brushed gently. (Gesso much holed by insects)
Gilt re-stuck in place with celluloid + Necol
Flail. Cu or bronxe gilt. Cleaned with ammonia (Mostly green a little sulphide)
Insignia on forehead. Cleaned with ammonia (Partly sulphide)
Waxed (except face + hands) by H.C.

Low: wooden (red wood)
Much white film in patches
Cleaned by brushing only. Waxed by H.C
Film gives calcium flame & probably SO3
(Acid used marked pure but found to contain Sulphate: not
used for other films, but in those cases an acid that gave negative
tests for SO3. SO3 however almost certainly more than with acid alone)

Page 16

Low: red wood with ebony & ivory
Cleaned by brushing only
Largely covered by white film
Film gave tests for Ca + SO3 (very small): some Cu2
(Waxed by HC.) Film probably largely limestone dust.

Seat of a chair. Painted with figures of captives

Boards (Horus)
Two: small: wood covered with a fairly thick
layer (on both sides) of some kind of white
plaster: much eaten by insects
Cleaned with benzine: coated with celluloid
(4 coats) Waxed by H.C. Little or no discoloration
of white.

Tall, narrow, on sledge. Wood painted white
Cleaned with benzine: treated with celluloid
(2 coats). Eaten by insects in places. Waxed by H.C
Much darkened by wax

Ebony framework
Red coniferous wood panels
Ebony + gilt ornamentation
Brushed off white film (much) & cleaned with
benzine. Film gave fair test for CO2 & no
immediate test for SO3 + none on standing over night
Film = limestone dust

Page 16 verso

Green colour
Very definite green: no bluish tint
Insoluble in xylol, Benzine, Alcohol + acetone
very slight green colour imparted to boiling
water, which becomes bluish-green with NH3
NH3 Becomes bluish-green
HCl Yellow colour extracted (test for Fe
negative) Residue vivid blue. This is gritty &
under microscope is unmistakeably frit -
some blue crystals & many light green.

Page 17

Lid of Box
Wood. Ebony framework + red (coniferous) wood
panels. Much white film
Cleaned by dry brushing & afterwards with benzine
Inscription down centre of lid - incised filled with
yellowish paint.

Panel of 537
No 386
Much white film & black ink hieratic inscription
Film definitely over inscription in places at limit
& probably everywhere. Treated inscription with celluloid
solution. Cleaned by brushing & benzine. (See 615 Lid & Box 494)
Waxed by HC. Ink inscription disappeared.

Wood: dark-red: gilt collars + bracelets
Possible traces of paint on face & hands
Much stopping filling up defects in wood
Cleaned by brushing & benzine. Cleaned gilt with NH3
Treated with celluloid solution. Repaired with Necol
Darkened. Waxed by H.C. Darkened slightly further

Treated by H.C. (waxed)
One panel coated with thin film of white
Has inscription in black. Film over inscription in
places & probably everywhere. This panel not waxed.

8 Ebony Gesso-gilt ends & 1 with faience in addition
4 Red wood. Gesso-gilt ends
1 - do - - do - Also silver
2 Covered with gesso coloured green. (See opposite)
Waxed by H.C.

Page 18

Reed. Blunt ends. (30)
1 with some part of feathers
Waxed by HC.

4 Red wood - short, curved (3 bark-covered ends)
1 "Truncheon" (red wood)
1 Funerary "throw stick" gesso-gilt
Waxed by HC.

A = dark wood
B = wood, coloured green
Top end & ferrule decorated with
sheet silver having gold filigree work over it
Ferrule has figures of captives in gold
Cleaned metal with NH3. The Ag. came
fairly bright (thin film of AgCl only)
On top of knob inlay of blue glass + carnelian
Waxed by H.C.

Back to Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation