Friday, May 31 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Wooden Artifacts) The Gordian Table Circa 2011

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In 2010 after nearly twenty years of contemplation the restoration of a fully 3-dimensional replica of the Gordian Table found in Tumulus MM at the Gordian site in Turkey began. This project from the start was without funding or grant sourcing and was a labor of love to replicate as closely as possible the very elegant and intricate yet surprisingly simple table. The lecture focuses on what it took to make full scale computer generated drawings of each piece and transfer that to wood harvested from New Zealand that was in itself 40,000 to 60,000 years old. The complexity of the original was re-created by using tomb photos of the pieces in situ during the 1950’s tomb opening. Many questions were answered; many more were opened up because of the technology and craftsmanship of the original object. While there are many three legged tables from this period in the Middle East (500 – 900 B.C.), nothing like this table and the several other objects clearly made by the same craftsman or school of craftsmen and only found in the one tomb, have truly been fully identified and attributed to a specific site and/or time. The original craftsman clearly had phenomenal skills and was very proficient with his craft well beyond what should have been the standard at that time in history. Replicating the process from beginning to end proved challenging and yet rewarding to discover not only the success but the little failures along the way that most surely were felt while building the original. Clearly the tools available during the time period as far as we are currently aware proved wholly inadequate for this table. Modern era tools proved to be almost as inadequate as well. Many of the tools necessary had to be fabricated to establish the same type of tool marks found on the original. Every attempt was made to truly make this table appear as a used piece of furniture without making it an attempted forgery of a piece. Furniture conservators have struggled for decades with making their work invisible but identifiable and that is true with this project. There is probably nothing truly square or perfect about this table but it imparts the charm we all have found with the aged objects we deal with on a daily basis including repairs made early on in the table’s history. Seasonal wood movement was allowed to explore its own path also adding that element to the finished table.

Finish for the table was derived from harvested resin from the 40,000 + year old Kauri wood. It was prepared in a manner consistent with technology available to the original craftsman and produced a surprisingly lustrous and reflective coating. No analysis has been done to date on the original coatings so the finish is at best a good guess.

The table project represents what many conservators and historians have talked about for years, building something with the skills and experience senior conservators have acquired as a result of spending considerable time with the objects entrusted to us. The lecture will highlight the process for one such project.


Rick Parker

Parker Conservation, Inc

Friday May 31, 2013 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
JW Marriott Meeting Room 204-205 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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