Csornay Boldizsár - Dobos Zsuzsa - Varga Ágota - Zakariás János szerk.: A Szépművészeti Múzeum közleményei 99. (Budapest, 2003)

DÁGI, MARIANNA: 'Tinkers' and 'Patchers': Some Notes on the Ancient Repairs of Greek Vases

'TINKERS' AND 'PATCHERS': SOME NOTES ON THE ANCIENT REPAIRS OF GREEK VASES In the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities sixteen vases or fragments show traces of ancient repair according to the scholars: there are drill holes, channels, or both, near fractures. (See the Appendix.) On the examination of known repaired vases the method of vase repairing made after firing 1 can be reconstructed as follows. 2 First the surfaces of the breaks to be united were trimmed up, and then pairs of holes were drilled along both edges of the fracture. The holes were sometimes connected together by channels. After piec­ing together the fragments, bits of metal (either lead or bronze 3 ) were inserted in the drill holes and also in the channels as staples. 4 Thereupon the joining of the edges of the fragments was filled 5 and the staples were retouched to disguise the repair. 6 The damaged vases could be repaired in different ways, depending on practical and aesthetic reasons. I am very grateful to Árpád Miklós Nagy, to Professors Miklós Szabó, János György Szilágyi and László Török for their help and valuable pieces of advice. 1 The problem of repair before firing is discussed at length in the case of only one Geometric vase; I am therefore not concerned with it here. See Papadopoulos, J.K., Hesperia 67 (1998) 109-123. 2 For the method, see Noble, J.V., The Techniques of Painted Attic Pottery, New York 1965, 94; Vos, M.F., OudhMed 62 (1981) 33-35; Eiston 1990; Hemelrijk, J.M., A Closer look at the Potter, in Looking at Greek Vases (edd. Rasmussen, T. - Spivey, N.), Cambridge 1991, 254-255; Cook, R.M., Greek Painted Pottery, London 1992, 240; Pfisterer-Haas, S., Wenn der Topf aber nun ein Loch hat... Restaurierung griechischer Keramik in Antike und Neuzeit (Sonderausstellung im Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig vom 13. Mai bis 9. August 1998), Leipzig 1998; Pfisterer-Haas 2002. 3 It is not known whether it was actually bronze stricto sensu. As far as I know, scientific analysis has not been carried out to define the alloys of metal pins and staples used for mending pottery. For the sake of simplicity I am going to use the word 'bronze instead of copper alloy'. 4 On its method, see below. 5 The scholars mention pine resin, a mixture of powder of egg white and fired clay, and quicklime for proofing, but there is no evidence of their use. Noble, op.cit. (n. 2) 94; Hemelrijk, op.cit. (n. 2) 254; Hampe - Winter 1965, 19 and 198. 6 Elston 1990, 53. It seems that the metal parts and flaked-off edge of the drill holes were over­painted in the colour of the pot to cover the repair. A fragment of an early Cycladic handmade vessel from Kastri acropolis, Syros, serves as a good example (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, inv. no. 5240). The damaged part of the pot was covered with a punched lead sheet (its size is approx. 6x6x6x5 cm). The surface of the lead was painted red to match the colour of the vessel, probably with red ochre. From the same site lead staples for pottery repair and red ochre came to light. See Gale, N.H. - Stos-Gale, Z.A., BSA 76 (1981) 211, pi. 34.