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Soil archive classification at European excavation sites in terms of impacts of conservability of cultural heritage


Assessment of the chemical and physical state of metal artifacts consisting of iron and copper alloys during burial as a measure for soil archive classification at European excavation sites in terms of environmental impacts and conservability leading to an user-manual with guidelines for the categorization of existing excavation sites, development of economically feasible preventive measures and a predictive model for future categorization of excavation sites.

Industrialisation and relatively recent changes in agricultural practices have caused dramatic changes in burial conditions. Two major changes are soil acidification and increasing or decreasing ground water levels both of which can lead to highly adverse shifts in the soil-artefact equilibrium. It can be expected that chemical changes in the soil archive are seriously endangering artifacts of some sites.

Metal artifacts of iron and bronze alloys will be used as "model artifacts" to reach these goals, because this type of approach for the development of judgement criteria for the aggressivity of a corrosive environment is well established as DIN standard 50917, part 1 ("Corrosion of Metals, Test under Natural Conditions, Outdoor Exposure") for classification of atmospheres. The aggressivity of the atmosphere is determined by evaluation of the extent of corrosion of iron, zinc, aluminium, copper and lead entities after exposure.

The aim is to develop a predictive model which will allow archaeologists to judge whether early excavation is essential to preserve artifacts, or whether they can safely be left to later generations when conservation science will be more advanced.

A second aim is to identify key pollutants or pollutant combinations, and to decide whether it is feasible to undertake remedial changes in soil chemistry in order to slow down or prevent further deterioration. Special attention will be given to developing economically feasible preventive measures and to developing a manual with guidelines for the classification of future excavation sites.

This project is working in connection with EV5V-CT94-0561 project given the clear complementarity of both research projects.

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Institut für Instandhaltung GmbH
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Kalkofen 4
58638 Iserlohn

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Participants (3)