Before Codex Sinaiticus was photographed, the Project needed to make sure that the leaves of the Codex were all in a sufficiently stable state to undergo this process. The task of the Conservation Working Party was to devise a strategy that protected the leaves from any possible harm and preserved them for the future. In order to achieve this, two steps were taken:
- The physical characteristics of each leaf were analysed and recorded.
- Limited conservation treatment was undertaken on those leaves requiring immediate attention.
In order to know how much conservation was required, the condition of each of the leaves needed examining and documenting. A method of recording the condition was designed that could be used in all four locations. This conservation assessment (one of unparalleled precision, leading to the creation of a database with over 300 fields) has led to an internationally-agreed terminology for describing and analysing the physical features of a manuscript and, together with the images made available by the project, has produced a model for conservators and scholars around the world to identify these terms.
The detailed examination of the physical characteristics of the manuscript looked at the different inks employed for the text, the way in which the leaves were prepared before the text was written and the types of animal skin from which the parchment was made. An international expert was asked to examine the surface of the parchment under high magnification and give his expert opinion about the type of animal from which the leaves were produced. International co-operation has ensured that the Project has drawn on the experience of the most up-to-date conservation and research projects around the world. Only non-destructive techniques have been used in the analysis and examination of the Codex.
Conservation treatment of leaves was strictly limited to what was required to stabilise them for imaging.
See a list of the conservators involved in the Codex Sinaiticus Project.