Project: Ageing Study of Treated Composite Archaeological Waterlogged Artifacts

Acronym ArCO
Duration 01/04/2014 - 31/03/2016
Project Topic Wooden objects in different collections are affected by serious deterioration processes caused by the presence of unstable salts. Chemical reactions of iron compounds and alum salts - as most prominent examples – lead to the forming of different acids and an acidification of the wood. Iron can migrate into wood from the environment or may be released during corrosion processes. Unstable iron compounds can attack wood components and promote the forming of sulphuric and organic acids, as known from numerous finds of archaeological wood, for example shipwrecks. Unstable salts can also be introduced into wood during conservation treatments. The conservation using alum salts in the period ca 1850 - 1950 initiated a slow but ongoing deterioration process. It is an aim of the conservation community to develop a preventive way to limit and to stop the decomposition of unstable salts present in the wood. To do so requires detailed knowledge about the long-term behavior of unstable salts and their interaction with different consolidants and other conservation materials. The ArCo project develops a testing protocol for archaeological wood containing unstable salts and treated with different consolidants, well-known as well as newly developed materials.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The presence of unstable salts is one of the most striking problems in archaeological wood. The chemical processes occurring during the decomposition of such compounds are quite complicate. Within the scope of ArCo, wood samples containing unstable salts – untreated as well as such treated with selected conservation agents - are accelerated aged varying different parameters. The process was monitored by chemical analyses, optical and electron microscopy and tomography. The project developed a standard testing protocol to make different methods comparable. This enabled conservators and conservation scientists to choose the most suitable preservation strategy for different types of archaeological wood. Concrete outcomes include the publication of new protocol, publications
Website visit project website
Network JPI Cultural Heritage
Call JPI JHEP Pilot Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Oslo Coordinator Norway
2 National Museum of Denmark Partner Denmark
3 ARC Nucléart Partner France
4 University of Pisa Partner Italy
5 ARCHA Laboratory Srl Partner Italy