The exhibition 'Origins of the Afro Comb, 6,000 years of culture, politics and identity was on show from 1st July to 3rd November 2013 at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), University of Cambridge, UK. Prepared for exhibition was a group of combs from the late 19th and early 20th century originating from the collections of the MAA. This collection in particular had never been examined from a technological point of view or been assessed in terms of its conservation and preservation needs. Therefore this dissertation focuses on a selection of combs from this collection. These include four metal composite combs, showing corrosion of metal binding, as well as fifteen glass-beaded composite combs that show signs of deterioration (glass disease). In addition there are surface residues/applications, consisting of oil, fat, wax and resin, and evidence of use, such as hair. Some pigments have also been observed. From these objects an investigation of the technology, deterioration and conservation was initiated. An extensive literature review was undertaken on all aspects of the objects, including sources to elucidate possible pesticide contamination. Thereafter examinations were undertaken with a broad range of analytical techniques, including Fibre optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The aim was to identify material composition but also to characterise corrosion products of metal and glass to assist in the conservation process. It was determined that when caring for this kind of collection of ethnographic material, a case-by-case approach is the most appropriate. Care was taken in the conservation process not to remove any evidence of use; corrosion products of metal wire binding were removed as far as possible, and broken and cracked elements were mended. Broken and cracked glass beads were cleaned and reattached. A key aim of the study was to develop a proposal for the future care of the objects, including guidelines for handling a possibly contaminated collection.