Cooperation of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Roman-Germanic Central Museum
Conservators working in the field of archaeological restoration not only require a delicate touch and skilled craftsmanship, but also a well-founded knowledge of pre- and protohistorical archaeology and aspects of the natural sciences, specifically in chemistry and the materials sciences. Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Roman-Germanic Central Museum Mainz (RGZM) will thus be launching a new Bachelor's degree program in Archaeological Restoration in the winter semester of 2007/2008. The program combines theoretical and practical content and represents a new educational concept that will be unique within the restoration/conservation field in Germany. This degree program replaces the course on archaeological restoration offered by the Roman-Germanic Central Museum Mainz. "We are delighted that this joint course of study will enhance the existing collaboration between the Roman-Germanic Central Museum and Mainz University," said Dr. Christof Clausing of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at JGU, who himself worked for a longer period at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum. "Our students will receive a unique education that is particularly career-oriented due to its high levels of practical content. It thus meets the requirements of a Bachelor's degree program in the best possible way." Future graduates will be competent to work all around the world as conservators of archaeological cultural assets.
The development of this new Bachelor's degree program can be traced back to a call for proposals made by the German Federal and State Commission for Educational Planning and Research Funding (BLK), which then initially financed the design and planning of the new program in a pilot project. The objective is to more closely combine the theoretical education offered at universities with the more practical skills required to work in the field. "This will bring the university and the museum closer together as places of learning," added Clausing. There will be 14 places available on the Archaeological Restoration degree program at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum in Mainz, which means four to five applicants can be accepted each year for the three-year course. Requirements include a university entrance qualification and a completed course of training in a manual vocation, for example, a qualification as a goldsmith or a dental technician. "All candidates who have acquired fine-motor skills and have worked with different materials including ceramics, glass, metals, or wood are particularly well-suited," emphasized Dr. Markus Egg, Director of the Restoration Workshops of the Roman-Germanic Central Museum. Those interested will be required to send their applications to the RGZM. From among the applicants, those with the best qualifications will be chosen for a three-month practical training course in the museum workshops that will serve to determine their individual suitability for the program. After completing the training, they will then be offered an apprenticeship contract with the Roman-Germanic Central Museum, which will make candidates eligible for enrollment in the course of study at Mainz University. During the three-year course period, students will also be employed as trainees at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum and will receive corresponding payment for their work.
In addition to being provided with practical training by a team of experienced conservators and experts in the field, the students will also have access to the infrastructure of a large, modern, and globally recognized restoration facility. Furthermore, the Roman-Germanic Central Museum will provide participants with experience of working on a selection of exciting and spectacular projects, such as the restoration and scientific analysis of the clothing and equipment found with world famous Ötzi the Iceman, dating to the late 4th century BC, or the processing of two badly corroded copper statues excavated from a temple in the Nekhen, the capital of Egypt in the predynastic period, that are considered the oldest large scale metal sculptures in the world. Other projects undertaken by the museum in recent years focused on a Roman shipwreck found in a tributary of Danube in Bavaria, bronze statues from Yemen, and the relic known as the Chair of St. Peter in Rome. "We at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum are lucky enough to receive selected objects from around the world. Discoveries from the Old Stone Age to the Middle Ages, and from Europe and Africa to Asia and South America are examined and processed here," concluded Egg.