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Research article2007Peer reviewed

Preservation, storage and display of waterlogged wood and wrecks in an aquarium: "Project Aquarius"

Bjordal CG, Nilsson T, Petterson R


A test aquarium containing water and waterlogged historical wooden material was observed during a three-year period at Vanernmuseum, Sweden, to test the feasibility of preserving and exhibiting archaeological wood or shipwrecks in a way accessible to the public. Experiments were also set up in a laboratory environment, to provide information on single factors that could influence the long-term preservation state of wood, and other processes that may occur in the water. The results showed that wood can safely be kept in an anoxic aquarium containing water at room temperature. Algae and other microbes may occur initially, but can be removed successfully by appropriate filter systems; the water remains clear. A low-molecular PEG (polyethylene glycol) solution was found to be equally as successful as water, which indicates a future possibility of combining conservation, storage and display in one process. When archaeological wood contain nails or other iron items, the water darkens, owing to an anaerobic corrosion processes which involves black iron products which discolour it. Before a full-scale aquarium dedicated to shipwrecks is built, the iron corrosion problem must be solved. The results are based on 3 years of experiments and continued long term studies are recommended. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Published in

Journal of Archaeological Science
2007, Volume: 34, number: 7, pages: 1169-1177

      SLU Authors

    • Nilsson, Thomas

      • Faculty of Forest Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Björdal Gjelstrup, Charlotte

        • Department of Forest Products, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Forest Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)