Chemical assessment of post-excavation changes observed in bone and antler from Star Carr, UK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Mesolithic site of Star Carr (UK) has recently undergone significant geochemical change, primarily site acidification, caused by a reduction in the height of the water-table. This has unfortunately led to considerable deterioration of the organic artefacts for which the site is internationally renowned. Chemical analysis of both the sediments and the organic materials has shown that this acidification will eventually lead to the loss of bone (via dissolution of hydroxyapatite) and wood (via chemical hydrolysis of cellulose and lignin) remaining at the site. Alarmingly, analysis presented in this paper has also shown that acidification of artefacts may continue at a rapid rate post-excavation. This demonstrates that as well as careful consideration for any artefacts preserved in situ, post-excavation treatment and storage methods need to take into account the specific chemistry of the burial environment from which they were retrieved in order to mitigate against further deterioration of artefacts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th ICOM-CC group on Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conference
EditorsEmily Williams, Emma Hocker
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9789290124368
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
EventICOM-CC Group on Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conference - Florence, Italy
Duration: 16 May 201621 May 2016
Conference number: 13th


ConferenceICOM-CC Group on Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conference

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