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The Impact of Recent Changes Within the Subsurface Environment Upon the Integrity of Buried Wood: Implications for the in situ Preservation of Archaeological Timbers.

Powell, Karen Louisa. (1999) The Impact of Recent Changes Within the Subsurface Environment Upon the Integrity of Buried Wood: Implications for the in situ Preservation of Archaeological Timbers. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Flag Fen, a Bronze Age archaeological site situated in the wetlands of East Anglia has been the subject of this research project. Multitudes of organic and inorganic artefacts have been preserved below the ground surface. Preservation is a consequence of the nature of the burial environment; that of a waterlogged anaerobic deposit, resulting from a high water table combined with soils with a capacity to absorb large volumes of water. Due to the vulnerability of this environment from anthropogenic activities in the area, such as drainage and sewage sludge disposal to land, a loss of archaeological evidence will be inevitable. Little is known of the factors that influence microbial decay of wood. The effect of contaminated groundwater upon the integrity of buried archaeological wood is therefore the subject of this project. A comprehensive water quality monitoring programme was conducted to determine the quality of groundwater at Flag Fen. Numerous methods were employed to determine the degradation of modern and archaeological timbers. A cursory analysis of soil type was undertaken at each burial site. The combination of these data was used to determine whether sewage contaminated groundwater has a detrimental effect upon buried archaeological remains. Water quality studies indicate that there is definite contamination of groundwater. The main agents of microbial decay were found to be soft rot fungi. In several instances where soft rot growth had been inhibited, bacterial decay was observed. The differences in the state of decay were found to result from a variety of influences. High levels of nitrate, phosphate and ammonia in groundwater were not necessarily correlated with heavily decayed wood. Burial sites having low water tables and mineral soils, were found to have significant amounts of decay. Soil type and groundwater depth were found to be the predominant factors governing microbial decay.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Powell, Karen Louisa.
Date : 1999
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1999.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 14:38
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 14:47
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/856354

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