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Removing the panel from its frame

The gap between the two panels after filling ©

In order to assess the condition of the actual panel it was essential to remove it carefully from its frame. This was completed by carefully removing old nails that held the original wooden backboard onto the frame.

The stela after it was removed from the frame ©

Once this was removed, it became clear that the object could not be lifted from its frame without stabilisation first. The stela was constructed from two wooden boards held together with wooden dowels. Movement between these panels was causing damage to the front layer of gesso and pigment. By filling the gap from the back, the object was stabilised sufficiently and could be lifted from the frame without further loss. It was then possible to examine the object more thoroughly.

Each panel showed a fairly deep vertical crack running upwards: the crack on the proper right panel extended towards the top band of decorations and had caused the loss of wood at the bottom. The crack on the proper left was less deep and much shorter; loss was mostly superficial on this side.