Project facts

Duration: 2014-04-01 - 2016-03-31
Project coordinator: University of Oslo - Museum of Cultural History - NORWAY
Project consortium: University of Oslo - Museum of Cultural History - NORWAY Museum of Cultural History (KHM), University of Oslo, NORWAY; National Museum of Denmark (Natmus),DENMARK; ARCNucléart (ARC), FRANCE; University of Pisa (DCCI), ITALY; ARCHA Laboratory Srl (ARCHA), ITALY
Funding bodies: JPI CH
Subject areas: Archaeology, Collections, Conservation, Materials, Methods - Procedures, Objects, Preventive conservation, Tangible Heritage, Technologies - Scientific processes
Budget: € 369 000


It has been noted that wooden objects in different collections were affected by serious deterioration processes caused by the presence of unstable salts. Chemical reactions of iron compounds and alum salts - as most prominent examples - led to the forming of different acids and acidification of the wood. The conservation using alum salts in the period circa 1850 - 1950 initiated a slow but ongoing deterioration process.

The conservation community gave itself the goal to develop a preventive way to limit and stop the decomposition of unstable salts present in the wood which required detailed knowledge about the long-term behavior of unstable salts and their interaction with different consolidants and other conservation materials.

The Arco project has developed a testing protocol for archaeological wood containing unstable salts and treated with different consolidants, well-known as well as newly developed materials.

Impacts & Results

Within the scope of ArCo, wood samples containing unstable salts - untreated samples as well as chemically treated ones - have been accelerated aged varying different parameters.

The process has been monitored by chemical analyses, optical and electron microscopy and tomography.

The project has developed a standard testing protocol to make different methods comparable.

It has enabled conservators and conservation scientists to choose the most suitable preservation strategy for different types of archaeological wood.


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