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Biological and topochemical studies on the resistance of excavated oak piles (Quercus sp.) from a historical bridge in Bavaria

Archaeological wood of 13 excavated oak piles from five historical bridge generations in Bavaria, dated from 1447 to 1787, was investigated by means of light microscopy (LM) and cellular UV-microspectrophotometry (UMSP) to study the ageing and natural resistance of the excavated wood. Furthermore, the mineral content of the ancient wood was determined to evaluate the impact of mineral inclusions on microbial resistance, tested using a mini block fungal test. The LM and UMSP analyses revealed well preserved cell wall structures and no significant modification of the lignin composition and distribution in predominant parts of the piles. Slight microbial decay caused by soft rot and erosion bacteria was only detectable at the outermost millimetres of individual piles. The fungal mini block tests yielded mass losses of ancient oak samples between 15% and 30%, independent of their analysed mineral content. The results provided evidence that the fungal resistance of the investigated ancient wood is mainly determined from the special soil with its high mineral content.


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