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Roman ship hulls

Roman Ship Bas-relief Roman Ship Bas-relief

Submersed wood of archaeological origin is characterised by the absence of air traces in cellular interstices, and suffers weakness from the microdegradation of cell walls. If the wood is removed from its humid environment, it can suffer an irreversible process of collapse unless promptly and appropriately treated.
The preservation treatments traditionally employed have the double aim of reinforcing the deteriorated cell walls and replacing residual water with a suitable substitute such as polyethylene glycol (PEG).


Elettra's contribution
Submersed wooden naval discoveries from the Roman era have been analysed at Elettra with imaging techniques using synchrotron light. The use of non-destructive methods to examine the depth of penetration of PEG into the wood has made it possible to monitor the effectiveness of this treatment with regard to various parameters (temperature, duration and density of the preservative) and to assess its effect upon the wood's characteristics.


Facility: SYRMEP Beamline
Structural microanalysis with synchrotron radiation: archaeometric applications at Elettra; L. Mancini, G. Tromba, e F. Zanini; Journal of Neutron Research, 2006.