Wood as Cultural Heritage Material

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Wood Science and Forest Products".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (6 August 2023) | Viewed by 19116

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
National Research Council of Italy, Institute of BioEconomy (CNR-IBE), Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
Interests: wood science; archaeology; heritage conservation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Research Council of Italy, Institute of BioEconomy (CNR-IBE), Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
Interests: wood aging; archaeological wood; waterlogged archaeological wood; wooden/table paintings; wooden statues; historic timber structures; historic wood dating
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wood is the most-used material by man in the course of its long evolutionary history. Despite being a perishable material, there are numerous wooden artifacts that testify to the importance of this material for humanity and that we now consider part of our cultural heritage.

The challenge is to preserve the artifacts by conserving the material they are made of.

A choice of types of artefacts was made in which wood has different functions, from a simple support of a painting to a carved work, to a structure inside a building; but we also tried to take into consideration the study of the transformations that the wood undergoes during its aging in the different environments in which it is preserved.

A final aspect is that of the dating methods of the material and how much the dating of the material also represents the date of construction of the artifact.

Dr. Nicola Macchioni
Dr. Elisa Pecoraro
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • wood aging
  • archaeological wood
  • waterlogged archaeological wood
  • wooden/table paintings
  • wooden statues
  • historic timber structures
  • historic wood dating

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

24 pages, 8046 KiB  
Article
Characterization of Microbial Decay and Microbial Communities in Waterlogged Archaeological Rosewood (Dalbergia Species)
by Jong Sik Kim, Minseok Kim, Ju Won Lim, Mi Young Cha, Kwang Ho Lee, Yong Hee Yoon and Yoon Soo Kim
Forests 2023, 14(10), 1992; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14101992 - 3 Oct 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1018
Abstract
While numerous studies have examined microbial attacks on waterlogged archaeological wood, limited information is available regarding microbial attacks in waterlogged tropical hardwoods submerged in marine environments. In this context, we explored microbial attacks in waterlogged archaeological rosewood (Dalbergia species), a tropical hardwood [...] Read more.
While numerous studies have examined microbial attacks on waterlogged archaeological wood, limited information is available regarding microbial attacks in waterlogged tropical hardwoods submerged in marine environments. In this context, we explored microbial attacks in waterlogged archaeological rosewood (Dalbergia species), a tropical hardwood species that was submerged in the Yellow Sea for approximately 700 years, using various microscopic techniques and next-generation sequencing (NGS) methods. Based on morphological features, Type-I soft rot decay was identified as the main decay type. Most fibers in waterlogged archaeological rosewood studied were gelatinous (G) fibers of tension wood and the mode of soft rot decay differed from fibers without the G-layer. Differences in decay resistance between vessel/axial parenchyma cells and fibers were not obvious. Vestured- and simple pit membranes showed higher decay resistance than vessel and axial parenchyma cell walls, respectively. Microbial community analysis by NGS revealed the dominance of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota in the fungal community. Various bacterial communities were also identified, although no prominent signs of bacterial decay were noted. The identified bacterial communities markedly differed from those reported previously in terms of their composition and abundance. Together, our results offer detailed insights into the microbial types and communities responsible for degrading waterlogged archaeological rosewood, contributing to a better understanding of microbial attacks in tropical hardwoods exposed to marine environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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12 pages, 2352 KiB  
Article
Strengthening of Ancient Timber Beams during Restoration Operations: Effect of Wood Cutting on Modulus of Elasticity
by Alberto Cavalli, Paola Mazzanti, Lorenzo Riparbelli and Marco Togni
Forests 2023, 14(9), 1854; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14091854 - 12 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1112
Abstract
In ancient buildings, timber members may require specific on-site interventions, including reinforcement or repair and sometimes the insertion of reinforcing material into grooves routed in the original sound wood. The required number, positions, and dimensions of grooves and the strengthening materials may differ [...] Read more.
In ancient buildings, timber members may require specific on-site interventions, including reinforcement or repair and sometimes the insertion of reinforcing material into grooves routed in the original sound wood. The required number, positions, and dimensions of grooves and the strengthening materials may differ according to the desired increases in bending stiffness and strength. The modulus of elasticity (MOE) of each beam is of key importance: the MOE is typically a point of weakness for wood and is considered a constant characteristic of each beam. However, taking into account the wood lost for the groove, whether the needed incisions affect the stiffness is unknown. As such, in this study, 12 old beams were accurately measured, and their static and dynamic MOEs were calculated before and after groove formation to simulate the typical processes of reinforcing interventions. One groove was routed along the length of each beam and progressively deepened in three steps. The results of tests showed how the MOE is affected by the groove depth, decreasing by up to one-third (34.1%), and that beam stiffness cannot be regarded as constant. Beam stiffness depends on the features of the beam, mainly the pith, fissures, and slope of the grain, as well as its structural integrity. Beam stiffness is strongly influenced by the cuts upon it. This study proves how the weakening effect of grooves created on-site can be assessed using the dynamic MOE and roughly predicted with a visual survey. The grooves required for strengthening beams must be thoroughly evaluated, considering the potential reduction in the mechanical properties of the beam, which goes well beyond the wood lost during cutting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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19 pages, 15018 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Various Iron Extraction Treatments on Waterlogged Archaeological Oak
by Charlène Pelé-Meziani, Nicola Macchioni, Lorena Sozzi, Elodie Guilminot, Gwenaël Lemoine, Benedetto Pizzo, Jean Yves Mevellec, Elisa Pecoraro and Mathilde Monachon
Forests 2023, 14(9), 1834; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14091834 - 8 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 946
Abstract
Treatments of organic objects to extract ferrous compounds from waterlogged archaeological wood are well documented. For several years, numerous laboratories have been seeking to determine suitable conservation treatments for such organic objects. For chemical treatments, complexing agents such as EDTA and DTPA, along [...] Read more.
Treatments of organic objects to extract ferrous compounds from waterlogged archaeological wood are well documented. For several years, numerous laboratories have been seeking to determine suitable conservation treatments for such organic objects. For chemical treatments, complexing agents such as EDTA and DTPA, along with acids such as citric and oxalic acids, were selected. In addition, oxidants and reducing agents were tested as pre-treatments to improve extraction rates. In fact, chemicals produce a selective reaction on ferrous compounds, which may improve or be inhibited by complexation or dissolution reactions. Their action depends on the type of compound to be extracted and those present inside the wood. The objective of this study was to make a comparative assessment of the various chemical conservation treatments identified and complement the evaluation of their extraction efficiency with a study of their impact on organic matter by adding criteria such as their visual aspect (using a spectrocolorimeter) and physicochemical actions by means of infrared spectroscopy and micromorphological observations. The effectiveness of EDTA was confirmed, as was that of citric acid, despite some questions arising concerning the presence of wood fibers in the treatment solution, even after rinsing. On the other hand, the extraction rate of oxalic acid, which has a very acidic pH, was unsurprisingly lower, but its visual and anatomical results raised the possibility of using it over a short period of time in view of the effectiveness observed on the wood surface. Pre-treatments improved extraction rates, except in the case of EDTA, which independently had a high extraction rate. It was observed that pre-treatments did not appear to cause any significant chemical degradation of the organic matter. This study provides a tool to assist conservators in selecting a chemical treatment that is in line with the state of decay of the wood, the characteristics of the ferrous compounds to be extracted, and the conservation objectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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12 pages, 2772 KiB  
Article
Timber Structures of Florence Cathedral: Wood Species Identification, Technological Implications and Their Forest Origin
by Nicola Macchioni, Marco Degl’Innocenti, Francesca Mannucci, Ilaria Stefani, Simona Lazzeri and Samuele Caciagli
Forests 2023, 14(9), 1733; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14091733 - 27 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1093
Abstract
The Cathedral of Florence is one of the largest churches in the world and is known for one of the most famous domes ever, which characterizes the skyline of the city. The dimensions of the building mean that the dimensions of the roof [...] Read more.
The Cathedral of Florence is one of the largest churches in the world and is known for one of the most famous domes ever, which characterizes the skyline of the city. The dimensions of the building mean that the dimensions of the roof are equally large and so are the wooden structures that support it. The roof of the cathedral is organized on two levels: the roof of the large central nave and, at a lower level, those of the two lateral naves. The purpose of this paper is the identification of the wood species of which the structures are made. The sampling method of the 408 samples that have been identified is then described, the methods followed to reach a reliable identification and finally the results. The timbers most represented among the structural elements are those of silver fir, chestnut and elm. Other timbers are then found in the other components less directly linked to the main structural parts that make up the trusses. The paper then discusses the technological implications on the use of those woods within the wooden covering structures of the cathedral and the main sources of timber that the builders had available, in particular the Casentino forests that the Municipality of Florence had donated to the structure that managed the construction of the cathedral (Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore—OPA). OPA still exists today and is responsible for the maintenance of the cathedral and other annexed buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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18 pages, 1648 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Versatility of Bioextraction to Preserve Waterlogged Wood
by Mathilde Monachon, Charlène Pelé-Meziani, Sathiyanarayanan Ganesan, Sabine de Weck, Friederike Moll-Dau, Janet Schramm, Katharina Schmidt-Ott and Edith Joseph
Forests 2023, 14(8), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14081656 - 16 Aug 2023
Viewed by 791
Abstract
An innovative bio method was investigated to extract harmful iron and sulfur species from waterlogged wood samples. The method was compared with a chemical treatment. Both approaches were applied on lacustrine and marine samples, from different wood genera, to evaluate the versatility of [...] Read more.
An innovative bio method was investigated to extract harmful iron and sulfur species from waterlogged wood samples. The method was compared with a chemical treatment. Both approaches were applied on lacustrine and marine samples, from different wood genera, to evaluate the versatility of the proposed bio method. Non-invasive and non-destructive methods were carried out to investigate both bio-based and chemical treatments. The result was that some wood genera were more affected by the bio approach, with a clear distinction between lacustrine beech and pine against oak and lime wood species. The chemical approach showed potential harm for the wooden structure, with acidic pH values and an increase of maximum water content, both implying degradation of the wood structure. In terms of extraction, no iron or sulfur products were detected by Raman spectroscopy on biologically treated samples, in agreement with extraction rates calculated. It was also suggested that iron bonded to wood was extracted with the chemical approach, and calcium content affected by both approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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13 pages, 6146 KiB  
Article
Analysis of the Natural Aging of Silver Fir (Abies alba Mill.) Structural Timber Using Dendrochronological, Colorimetric, Microscopic and FTIR Techniques
by Matjaž Dremelj, Klemen Novak, Maks Merela and Aleš Straže
Forests 2023, 14(7), 1363; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14071363 - 2 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1091
Abstract
Timber, as a building material, is subject to structural changes in the used interior, which result from the influence of various local environmental conditions and their changes during the service life. Samples of naturally aged historic silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) wood [...] Read more.
Timber, as a building material, is subject to structural changes in the used interior, which result from the influence of various local environmental conditions and their changes during the service life. Samples of naturally aged historic silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) wood were taken from the roof of St. Barbara Church (Ravnik above Hotedršica, Slovenia). The slices of historic wood were dendrochronologically dated and analyzed by CIELab color determination, light microscopic analysis and IR spectroscopy. Our results showed that the interior of the 18th-century fir structural timber had lower color lightness (L*) and intensity (b*), particularly in the latewood. The partial increase in lignin and decrease in hemicelluloses relative to cellulose content, associated with an increased degree of crystallinity of cellulose, was confirmed by epifluorescence and polarized light microscopy combined with FTIR spectroscopy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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12 pages, 2569 KiB  
Article
Density Estimation by Drilling Resistance Technique to Determine the Dynamic Modulus of Elasticity of Wooden Members in Historic Structures
by Michele Brunetti, Giovanni Aminti, Margherita Vicario and Michela Nocetti
Forests 2023, 14(6), 1107; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14061107 - 26 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1298
Abstract
(1) The assessment of the mechanical properties of old timber is essential for the proper maintenance of wooden structures. (2) Among the non-destructive properties, the dynamic modulus of elasticity is one of the best predictors of the mechanical characteristics of the members, but [...] Read more.
(1) The assessment of the mechanical properties of old timber is essential for the proper maintenance of wooden structures. (2) Among the non-destructive properties, the dynamic modulus of elasticity is one of the best predictors of the mechanical characteristics of the members, but it requires the determination of wood density to be determined. (3) Thus, wood density was estimated by drilling resistance measurements, developing species-specific prediction equations for silver fir, chestnut and poplar. (4) The estimated density was combined with the stress wave velocity propagating longitudinally through the wooden piece, and the dynamic modulus of elasticity was calculated. (5) Medium-high coefficient determinations (R2 from 0.79 to 0.94) were found for density estimation, and medium coefficient determinations (R2 from 0.53 to 0.60) were found for the estimation of the static modulus of elasticity using the dynamic modulus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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22 pages, 11285 KiB  
Article
Microscopic Identification of 24 Timber Samples Obtained from Half-Timber Walls in Northern Spain—Considerations on the Relationship between Species and Constructive Needs
by Alicia Hueto-Escobar, Fernando Vegas López-Manzanares and Camilla Mileto
Forests 2023, 14(2), 352; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14020352 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1279
Abstract
Traditional architecture characteristically uses locally available materials to develop constructive systems and techniques, providing an optimum response to the needs of the population. This study focuses on half-timber walls as a traditional technique taking material form in a wide range of variants found [...] Read more.
Traditional architecture characteristically uses locally available materials to develop constructive systems and techniques, providing an optimum response to the needs of the population. This study focuses on half-timber walls as a traditional technique taking material form in a wide range of variants found mostly in the northwest half of Spain. Primarily aiming to ensure the broad objective of in-depth documentation, understanding, and study, the microscopic analysis of 24 timber samples obtained from different half-timber walls is proposed. This analysis aims to identify the species or species groups used and to establish a correlation with different aspects of construction including structural resistance, durability, and workability. This makes it possible to identify the predominant use of species found close to the locations from which the samples are obtained, using relatively resistant species for the structural elements of the half-timber wall, as well as the use of species with flexible and easily malleable branches for the construction of the enclosure panels. This indicates that, among the species available in a given location, builders have a degree of knowledge on the characteristics of the material, so they could choose the most suitable ones or develop specific constructive solutions based on these characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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18 pages, 4827 KiB  
Article
Changes in Moisture Characteristics of Waterlogged Archaeological Wood Owing to Microbial Degradation
by Huimin Cao, Xin Gao, Jiabao Chen, Guanglan Xi, Yafang Yin and Juan Guo
Forests 2023, 14(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14010009 - 21 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1919
Abstract
Studying waterlogged archaeological wood moisture characteristics can provide strong support for the safe dehydration and preservation of waterlogged wooden artifacts. Herein, six waterlogged archaeological wood samples with moisture contents of 154%–968% chosen from two ancient Chinese shipwrecks, Nanhai No. 1 and Changjiangkou No. [...] Read more.
Studying waterlogged archaeological wood moisture characteristics can provide strong support for the safe dehydration and preservation of waterlogged wooden artifacts. Herein, six waterlogged archaeological wood samples with moisture contents of 154%–968% chosen from two ancient Chinese shipwrecks, Nanhai No. 1 and Changjiangkou No. 2, and six non-degraded modern wood samples of the relevant corresponding species were selected to study the moisture characteristics by low-temperature nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and the dynamic sorption of water vapor (DVS). It was found that the six waterlogged archaeological wood samples exhibited three deterioration states: slightly, moderately, and seriously deteriorated. Wood deterioration caused significantly increased fiber saturation point (FSP) values for waterlogged archaeological wood. This is mainly owing to changes in the pore size distribution of cell walls. Moreover, NMR is more accurate than DVS in obtaining FSP for severely degraded samples. Additionally, moisture content was positively associated with wood deterioration. Maximum water content (MWC), free water content, and bound water content exhibited an exponential relationship with the basic density (BD). The contribution of bound water in waterlogged archaeological wood was less than that of modern wood and decreased with deterioration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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17 pages, 7277 KiB  
Article
The Relationship between Carving Work and Timber Features: A Database for the Italian Wooden Statuary
by Nicola Macchioni, Lorena Sozzi and Giovan Battista Fidanza
Forests 2022, 13(4), 517; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13040517 - 27 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2247
Abstract
Wood has a wide range of applications in the artistic field, most of the time used as a support for works of art, for example, in panel paintings. Compared with stones and metals, wood is by far the material most utilised for sculptures. [...] Read more.
Wood has a wide range of applications in the artistic field, most of the time used as a support for works of art, for example, in panel paintings. Compared with stones and metals, wood is by far the material most utilised for sculptures. Through the identification of wood species, a study of timbers used in statuary in Europe, with a deeper exploration of the works of art preserved in Italy, can provide further insights for historical–artistic studies. Indeed, in reality, generic wood does not exist, but there are different timbers. This is a notion that the wood fine carving artists/craftsmen knew well. The initial idea of this study was to verify whether timber features could influence the formal results in figurative carving; therefore, a specific database that had been developed to catalogue the carving works was used for which the identification of wood species was carried out through reliable methodologies. The aim of this research was to analyse the relationship between the timber species used in statuary, the formal results of carving, and the thickness of the preparatory layer, through the data stored in a specific database, called ArISStArt. It contains a sort of registry of artistic carving and inlay works: For each artefact, a record was compiled consisting of different fields, which contains the historical–artistic information available, including the images of the artefact and also types of timber/s used for its creation, with a link to the relative field. The number of the recorded artefacts is, at present, 480. On most of the artefacts, more than one sample was taken; therefore, the total number of identifications carried out corresponds to 691. Based on the results, the vast majority of wooden statuary is carved from hardwoods, more specifically hardwoods, with diffuse porosity and small variations in density within the growth ring. The timber most present is poplar, followed by lime and walnut. With the listed three timbers, almost 80% of the artefacts recorded in ArISStArt were created. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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9 pages, 1520 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Factors Affecting Termite Damage to Wooden Architectural Heritage Buildings in Korea
by Si-Hyun Kim and Yong-Jae Chung
Forests 2022, 13(3), 465; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13030465 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3919
Abstract
Many wooden architectural heritage buildings exist in Korea, and the authenticity and structural stability of these cultural assets are being affected by termites. This study aimed to identify the degree of termite damage and related factors in these buildings. The degree of termite [...] Read more.
Many wooden architectural heritage buildings exist in Korea, and the authenticity and structural stability of these cultural assets are being affected by termites. This study aimed to identify the degree of termite damage and related factors in these buildings. The degree of termite damage to 182 nationally designated wooden architectural heritage buildings (national treasures and treasures) in Korea was quantified, and data were collected for 11 factors affecting termite damage, such as the surrounding environment and architectural features. Based on the results of a general linear model analysis, the following three factors were identified to have a significant effect on termite damage: the type of contact between the ground and wooden structural items, the number of days of termite activity, and the proportion of forests in the land surrounding the property. This study is the first attempt to statistically analyze factors affecting termite damage to wooden heritage buildings, and our results provide initial data for the preservation and management of these properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood as Cultural Heritage Material)
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