The process by which the Israel Museum unrolled the tiny silver amulet containing the Divine Name was described for BAR by Joseph “Dodo” Shenhav, head of the Israel Museum laboratories. Shenhav is familiar to BAR readers as author of “Saving the Dead Sea Scrolls for the Next 2,000 Years,”BAR 07:04.
First the silver amuler was rinsed in a solution of alkaline salt and formic acid to remove all corrosion, both inside and out. The outer layer of the roll was then covered with an emulsion of acrylic which, on drying, is both transparent and elastic. With this covering, the outer layer of the amulet could be unrolled. When the next layer was exposed, the process was repeated until the entire amulet was unrolled. Special care had to be taken that the acrylic emulsion reached every bit of the surface on both sides of the convoluted amulet before it was unrolled. Otherwise, the fragile silver sheet would break and crack.
For two and a half years before devising this method, the museum consulted English and German specialists in the restoration of metal archaeological objects—but to no avail. Finally, the method described above was devised by the Israel Museum itself, and the two amulets found in Jerusalem have now been successfully unrolled.