Atlas of Micromorphological Degradation of Archaeological Birch Bark

Klügl, Johanna; Di Pietro, Giovanna (2021). Atlas of Micromorphological Degradation of Archaeological Birch Bark. Applied Sciences, 11(18), p. 8721. MDPI 10.3390/app11188721

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In this paper we present an atlas of micromorphological degradation of archaeological birch bark for the first time. We analysed the morphology of 13 samples extracted from ice-logged, waterlogged and cave-retrieved objects dated from the Neolithic to the Middle Age by means of light microscopy (LM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We then compared their morphology to that of a contemporary sample, both intact and decayed. In all samples, 13 morphological characteristics that can be associated with fungal, bacterial, chemical, mechanical and light degradation are defined and described, and example LM and TEM images are provided. This novel atlas provides conservator-restorers a much-needed tool to relate the macroscopic appearance to the microscopic structure of birch bark objects. The most important macroscopic features allowing estimation of the state of preservation at the cell level are colour changes, loss of pliability, presence of delamination and increased brittleness. Colour change and delamination can be connected to microscopic features, and microscopic analysis can trace whether they were caused by biotic, chemical or physical decay. However, increased brittleness cannot be connected to a specific microscopic feature.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

Graduate School:

Graduate School of the Arts (GSA)

UniBE Contributor:

Klügl, Johanna

ISSN:

2076-3417

Publisher:

MDPI

Language:

English

Submitter:

Johanna Klügl

Date Deposited:

05 Oct 2021 17:26

Last Modified:

05 Oct 2021 17:26

Publisher DOI:

10.3390/app11188721

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/159609

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/159609

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