A few weeks back, we decided to TAKE COVER (see post of the very same name) and build some temporary shelters over the exposed mosaics in order to keep the rain off of them and help ease them into life on the surface. It is difficult to say much about their condition and how to care for them when they are freshly excavated in a meaningful way, since their state will change so much as they acclimate to the surface conditions.
As you may have noticed, it has been a very rainy few weeks here in the Cotswolds, and the mosaics would have been exposed to this direct water for the first time if our shelters had not gone up. We are happy to say that the shelters have stopped the rain and allowed to the mosaics to slowly dry out a little bit in the past few weeks. The mortar and surrounding material has firmed up between the tesserae, making them more stable than when first excavated. The mosaics appear to need less intervention than originally thought because the soft mortar has firmed up on its own when given a chance to air out a bit. With this protection from the shelters, we can monitor the natural changed happening to the mosaics as they are exposed to air and how they are improving on their own, then decide what further intervention might be needed.
A snap judgement made based on their condition a month ago would have been unnecessary intervention, as they are stabilizing on their own with only some adjustments to their environment. This leads the conservators to believe that the condition will naturally improve further once the buildings are on top of the space and the air temperature and moisture content is even more stable. Once again, the wise and light touch of the conservator has come to great results. Just doing our job 🙂