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Germanic Warrior’s Wooden Shield Conserved

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

HALLE, GERMANY—According to a report in The Art Newspaper, conservators have determined that a fragment of a painted wooden warrior’s shield discovered in a Germanic chief’s tomb in central Germany is 1,700 years old. Conservator Christian-Heinrich Wunderlich of the Landesmuseum in Halle said microscopic examination of the wood fragment revealed that the surface had been prepared with chalk and lime to create a smooth surface for layers of paint such as “Egyptian blue,” which was widely available in the Roman Empire, and vermillion, which was only available in a few places in the Mediterranean. “These pigments were not cheap and must have been Roman imports,” Wunderlich said. The shield would have measured about four feet across, and was probably painted on both sides, he added. The chief’s tomb also contained a gold neck ring and brooch, silver belts, spurs, a knife, coins, arrowheads, drinking glasses, a bronze vessel for mixing wine, and a bronze stool. Wunderlich explained that some of these objects may have been received as payment from the Romans for acting as a mercenary or conducting a looting expedition, while other items are thought to have been made in Scandinavia. To read about the Roman conquest of Germany, go to "The Road Almost Taken."

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