Caring for an old iron arrowhead

I recently acquired an iron Roman arrowhead, which I’m told is likely from the 2nd century AD.

Can anyone advise me on how to treat or care for it in order to minimise corrosion?


Something like this deserves the advice of an expert - I suggest you try to get in touch with someone who has serious museum experience. Such a person would probably be able to give you useful information about the item’s history, based on its shape, markings, etc.

In the mean time, keep it in as dry a place as you can find - perhaps wrapped in clean cloth in a box with some silica gel . Don’t allow it to be handled. Under no circumstances attempt to clean or polish it.

Keeping it in a dry and chemically neutral environment away from any wear and tear would be in order. If I had to hazard a guess at what the professionals do, I’d assume a thorough rinse in distilled water, drying gently, and then storing in a dry inert-gas atmosphere. But I’d second Xema’s suggestion to ask such a professional rather than guessing.

I believe the traditional method is to bury it deep in a Carthaginian.


AG Russell, a purveyor of high-end knives, markets a silicone-based product called RustFree that collectors of knives worth many thousands of dollars use to protect their investments. I use it myself. A teeny-tiny drop is enought to protect an entire knife blade and the stuff really does work. Polished brass protected with it doesn’t tarnish nor does protected steel rust.

Well if it’s lasted 1900 years, I’d leave it where it is. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks, all!

An expert has seen it and it’s not a particularly rare or valuable piece, so I don’t think it needs expert care, but I still think it’s cool and would like to preserve it as best I can.

There is already the inevitable corrosion of the years in the ground so I think it is beyond polishing, but I will take the advice of keeping it dry and wrapped and get some silica gel.

Anyway, it’s nice to be properly prepared for the fourth Punic war!

Archeologist checking in. Iron items lifted from their soil bed with any corrosion (rust) at all will continue to corrode since the salts from the soil that cause the corrosion won’t inactivate in normal room RH.

Iron finds are boiled to extract as much of the corrosive salts as possible, then coated with hot wax to seal the item from moisture in the air.

An arrowhead that’s not a recent (excavation) find and is in good condition will in all probability stay so as long as it is kept dry.

ETA: Simulpost with the OP.