Studies in the Arts (SINTA)

Johanna Klügl

Postal Address
Universität Bern
Graduate School of the Arts
Johanna Klügl
Muesmattstrasse 45
CH-3012 Bern

Johanna Klügl

Johanna Klügl is an object conservator for archaeological artefacts specialized in conservation of organic materials. She obtained her degree in 2007 at the HTW Berlin with a thesis on the material analysis of a Celtic ceramic vessel. Since 2008 she is Head of the Section of Conservation of Organic Objects at the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Berne. She is i. a. responsible for the preservation of the finds from the Schnidejoch, a melting ice patch in the Bernese Alps and therefore an important focus of her work is the development of conservation strategies for artefacts preserved in ice.

In 2011/12 she attended the master course in Conservation and Restoration at HTW Berlin and graduated in April 2013 at the BUA in Bern. In 2014 she received her Master of Research on the Arts at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences of the University of Bern. Her PhD project is part of the interdisciplinary research project Unfreezing History, that started in spring 2015 (


Prof. Dr. Albert Hafner, Universität Bern, Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften, Abteilung Prähistorische Archäologie (Ur- und Frühgeschichte)
Dr. Giovanna di Pietro, Hochschule der Künste Bern, Forschungsschwerpunkt Materialität in Kunst und Kultur

Doctoral project

Unfreezing History: A study to find conservational possibilities for the earliest example of a Neolithic bow case ever to be found.

The PhD work is part of a 3-years research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation that focuses on an outstanding archaeological object: the unique example of a birch bark bow case. This Neolithic object, dating from around 2800 B.C., was found in 2003 protruding from a melting ice patch at the Schnidejoch Pass in the Bernese Alps. The exceptional case for a bow revolutionizes the view of the Neolithic hunting practice in the Alps and gives a unique insight into prehistoric European culture. It also poses major challenges as it can neither be compared to similar Neolithic objects nor enough knowledge is available on how to safely de-freeze it and preserve it.

The conservation part of the interdisciplinary project aims to define long-term conservation strategies for the Neolithic bow case. Currently the body of the bow case is stored in a freezer at -26 °C. Conservation measures must be undertaken to convert the perishable, damp artefact into a stable object, able to sustain ambient conditions. This is a challenging task as birch bark is a material whose degradation process is as yet unknown. The focus of the PhD study is to acquire a complete overview of the degradation mechanisms of archaeological birch bark and to assess experiences on the conservation of archaeological birch bark objects. This will provide the knowledge that is needed to develop a long-term preservation strategy of the bow case and ensure accessibility of the object to both researchers and wide public.

Research priorities

Conservation science, archaeological objects, material analyses