Characterization of archaeological waterlogged wooden objects exposed on the hyper-saline Dead Sea shore

Asaf Oron*, Nili Liphschitz, Benjamin W. Held, Ehud Galili, Micha Klein, Raphael Linker, Robert A. Blanchette

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Archaeological waterlogged wood objects exposed on the Dead Sea shore exhibit little visual evidence of degradation when first exposed, and after prolonged exposure and dehydration. An investigation on the state of preservation of this material was recognised as a necessary step towards its long-term conservation. Micromorphological observations, ATR FTIR, ash content, and physical tests showed that deterioration is limited and is mostly non-biological in nature. Natural bulking and impregnation with lake minerals and salts appear to play a significant role in the physical stability of these woods when dried, and apparently inhibit microbial colonization and subsequent degradation. In contrast, archaeological wood examined from a typical Mediterranean marine environment showed advanced stages of degradation by bacteria, with the wood structure extensively compromised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


FundersFunder number
Dead Sea and Arava Science Center
Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University
Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology3-8422
Minerva Dead Sea Research Center
RPM Nautical Foundation
Tel Aviv University
University of Haifa


    • Ancient driftwood
    • Conservation
    • Dead Sea
    • Hyper-saline environments
    • Maritime activity
    • Waterlogged wood
    • Wood deterioration


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