Filling the Gaps in Heritage Science research #3 Decay mechanisms and rates of decay of archaeological material

Filling the Gaps #3 moves on to archaeological material.

The ‘gaps in knowledge and understanding’ in the decay mechanisms and rates of decay of archaeological material that were flagged up in the National Heritage Science Strategy included a need for research into the following topics:

  • the response of organic and inorganic archaeological materials to short, and long term fluctuations in water level
  • the rate of degradation of organic materials following de-watering
  • the impact of chemical agents (contamination, fertilisers) on artefacts
  • the role of micro-organisms in degradation of waterlogged burial material and factors causing increased activity
  • the impact of compression on artefacts (from construction)
  • post-excavation changes to archaeological materials and mitigate their effects
  • the deterioration of archaeological soil samples, what information is lost during long-term storage
  • the impacts of exposure of marine archaeological remains

If you know of research that has been carried out into any of these areas since 2009, please add information to our survey form at:

It doesn’t have to be comprehensive but if you can help us track down resources, we will be able to use the results to share information about existing heritage science research as well as to show which ‘gaps’ remain in the National Heritage Science Strategy as areas for future research and funding.

Thank you for all your contributions so far!

National Heritage Science Forum

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