European Journal of Wood and Wood Products

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 691–703 | Cite as

Changes in oak wood buried in waterlogged peat: shrinkage as a complementary indicator of the wood degradation rate

  • Leszek BabińskiEmail author
  • Ewa Fabisiak
  • Magdalena Zborowska
  • Danuta Michalska
  • Włodzimierz Prądzyński


A study was made on the degradation of contemporary heartwood of oak (Quercus sp.) buried in waterlogged peat on the archaeological site at Biskupin (Poland). The state of wood preservation was evaluated after 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 years of deposition of samples in conditions similar to anaerobic. The changes that occurred in the wood were assessed on the basis of microscopic examinations, chemical composition, mass loss and selected physical properties of the wood. Despite a distinct mass loss of the samples (7.4% after 10 years of the experiment), only the initial phase of cell wall degradation and almost unchanged contents of major chemical components were observed in the examined wood. Greater changes were recorded in the content of water-soluble extractives, maximum water content, basic density and wood porosity, as well as in the total tangential and the total radial shrinkage. Wood mass loss resulted mainly from the loss of substances soluble in water (up to 70.8% after 10 years of the experiment) and less from the biological degradation of cell walls (loss of major chemical components of wood). A close relationship was observed between content of substances soluble in water, mass loss, and wood shrinkage. It was concluded that tangential and radial shrinkage may serve as a simple complementary indicator of the state of preservation of wood decomposing in the conditions of a monitored archaeological site.



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leszek Babiński
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ewa Fabisiak
    • 2
  • Magdalena Zborowska
    • 3
  • Danuta Michalska
    • 4
  • Włodzimierz Prądzyński
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of ConservationArchaeological Museum in BiskupinGąsawaPoland
  2. 2.Department of Wood SciencePoznań University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Wood TechnologyPoznańPoland
  3. 3.Institute of Chemical Wood TechnologyPoznań University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Wood TechnologyPoznańPoland
  4. 4.Institute of GeologyAdam Mickiewicz University, Faculty of Geographical and Geological SciencesPoznańPoland
  5. 5.Department of Wood Chemistry and Environmental ProtectionWood Technology InstitutePoznańPoland

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