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Ageing Study of Treated Composite Archaeological Waterlogged Artefacts (ArCo)

ArCo is a JPI-JHEP (Joint Pilot transnational call - Joint Heritage European Programme) project financed by the EU and, for the Danish part, administrated by The Danish Council for Independent Research (grant-ID: DFF – 1319-00351). The project deals with ageing related problems on conserved archaeological wood. Five European groups collaborate; a French conservation and research facility (ARC-nucleart), an Italian University (DCCI) an Italian company (ARCHA), a laboratory (EAMS) at the Danish National Museum and a Norwegian Museum of Cultural history (KHM).

Short project description
Figure 1: Salt precipitation on the surface of a part of a conserved archaeological shipwreck.

Short project description

The ArCo-project deals with preservation problems for archaeological wood after conservation. In some cases salt spots appear on the surface of conserved archaeological wooden objects that have been waterlogged such as for example a shipwreck, long time after conservation (figure 1). Sometimes other problems arise too like pH drop and maybe loss of mechanical strength in the wood. During the time on the seabed various substances are incorporated into the wood which is the background for the salt spots. Other factors may also affect the processes e.g. the different impregnation agents applied in the conservation process as well as humidity and unstable climate after conservation.

Figure 2: Chamber where wood samples can be subjected to climatic fluctuations.

A range of conserved archaeological wooden samples of different origins, treated with different impregnation agents will be studied during ArCo. The samples will be subjected to an artificial ageing process in a climate chamber where the climate fluctuates (figure 2). The objects will be filmed inside the climate chamber to follow a possible formation of salt spots. Sorption isotherms will also be recorded for the samples using a Dynamic Vapor Sorption (DVS) instrument at the Danish National Museum to look for possible differences in the moisture sorption characteristics. A range of chemical analyses will be carried out before and after ageing in the climate chamber in order to probe possible changes in the chemical composition of the samples caused by the treatment.

Future events

Kick-off meeting in April 2014.



Kutzke, H., Łucejko, J.J., Modugno, F., Mortensen, M., Chaumat, G., Gambineri, F., The ArCo Project:

Ageing Study of Treated Composite Archaeological Waterlogged Artefacts, ICOM-CC, HERITAGE WOOD: RESEARCH & CONSERVATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY, National Museum in Warsaw, Poland, 28 - 30 October, 2013.


Kulturhistorisk museum (KHM), Universitetet i Oslo (UiO): Hartmut Kutzke

ARC-Nucleart (Atelier régional de conservation), Grenoble: Gilles Chaumat and Quoc-Khôi Tran

Laboratori Archa srl (Analisi, ricerca e formazione) Pisa: Francesca Gambineri

Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale (DCCI), Università di Pisa, Francesca Modugno

The Danish National Museum, Conservation and Natural Sciences (CNS), department of Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science (EAMS), Brede: Martin N. Mortensen and Michelle Taube.