In order to explore ancient casting techniques, a project to research the “Praying Boy” was carried out from 1994—1997. In cooperation with Uwe Rohnstock-Peltz of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Instituto Centro di Restauro in Rome, and the Giesserei-Institut Aachen, a casting pit was reconstructed in the Italian town of Murlo in 1995. Approximating the ancient conditions to a great extent was meant to provide information about ancient casting methods. The casting was first simulated on the computer, and the data thus obtained was later confirmed in the experiment.

The museum educational service of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin along with Jürgen Mrosek subsequently designed a film on the casting and post-processing techniques used in the production of large ancient bronzes. It was specifically the hands on investigation of ancient welding and repair techniques that provided information on the state of the technologies of the time and how widespread they were. The images on the so-called “Berlin Foundry Cup”, a ceramic dating from circa 480 BC, were an important source of information. These images include, among others, a depiction of the way that figures to be cast were commonly divided into sections at that time, the method also used in the creation of the “Praying Boy”. The figure was cast in three parts; the head and the plinth with the front halves of the feet were attached afterwards.

For a long time, there had only speculations about welding methods used in the past. The welding techniques employed today have only been in use since the 19th century. Until that time, metal joints were mostly created using the dip-overlay method: the two parts were notched and than metal was spilled over them. This technique is, however, not really welding, in which the metal forms a homogenous connection with the weld metal. The “Praying Boy”, nevertheless displays true welding joints at the points where sections were joined; they are probably executed in the crucible welding method. In crucible welding, sprues are attached at the points to be welded and flushed with bronze until the surrounding metal is evenly heated and forms a connection with the casting metal.

The Kunstgiesserei performed various tests in order to verify ideas about this technique. For a documentary film, the casting and all the post-processing techniques, such as patination, welding and cold work were executed as they were in ancient times.

Literature at the Art Library Sitterwerk