Evaluation of an alternative biotreatment for the extraction of harmful iron and sulfur species from waterlogged wood
Laboratory of Technologies for Heritage Materials, University of Neuchâtel, 2000, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
2 Swiss National Museum, 8910 Affoltern am Albis, Zürich, Switzerland
3 Haute Ecole Arc Conservation-Restauration, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, 2000, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
4 Archaeological Service of Canton Bern, 3001, Bern, Switzerland
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Accepted: 26 August 2021
Published online: 14 September 2021
An innovative bioextraction method was tested and compared to common chemical extraction for the preservation of waterlogged archeological wood (WAW) artifacts. During burial, WAW artifacts accumulate iron and sulfur species forming iron sulfides. These compounds are harmless in the burial environment, where the oxygen content is low. But upon excavation, the WAW undergoes the oxidation of these compounds, and thus, irreversible physical and chemical damages occur. Fresh and archeological oak and pine samples were selected as representative species of WAW artifacts. Fresh samples were previously artificially contaminated to ascertain the presence of iron and sulfur. Thiobacillus denitrificans and natural iron chelators, called siderophores, were investigated to extract iron and sulfur as a 2-step biological treatment (BT) and compared to sodium persulfate–EDTA as chemical treatment (CT). Consolidation and freeze-drying were performed on the samples after BT and CT as traditional conservation protocols. BT and CT efficiency was evaluated through Raman, inductively coupled plasma–optical emission (ICP-OES), and Fourier transformed infrared (FTIR) spectroscopies. Raman and ICP showed that most of the iron and sulfur was extracted after BT, while some sulfur species remained present on CT samples. None of the extraction methods resulted in a degradation of the wood, as ascertained by FTIR analyses. Yet, all samples presented visual modifications after conservation. Pine samples treated with BT illustrated the oxidation of the species. Present principal component analysis (PCA) and analysis of variance (ANOVA) which were selected as statistical approaches and validated BT as a promising alternative extraction method, with encouraging extraction rates and less alteration of the sample appearance.
© The Author(s) 2021
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