Detection of structural changes has a great importance in conservation and treatment of wooden artifacts found in burial environments. In this study, two wooden samples excavated in Shahr-i Sukhta, an important prehistoric site in eastern Persia, were tested by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). FTIR results showed that decay of lignin occurred. This was accompanied by cellulose degradation. SEM images showed detachment of wood fibers in cross sections and cell wall breakage in tangential sections of the wood samples. These results indicated that the structural change in cellulose and lignin has caused detachment of wood fibers and cell wall breaking. This is the sign of low physical characteristics of wood which has direct relevance to cellulose decay and lignin degradation in middle lamella of wood cells. Cellulose chain breaking over time, has produced stresses in the compound middle lamella layer of the cell wall, that became accelerated in the middle of the lamella layer. Consequently, wood fibers were detached, and disintegration and powdering of wood surfaces occurred.
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Mohammadi Achachluei, M., Vatankhah, G. Structural Degradation of Third Millennium B.C.E. Archaeological Wood from Shahr-i Sukhta, Iran. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1319, 604 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.797