Corrosion of archaeological iron artefacts compared to modern iron at the waterlogged site Nydam, Denmark

Henning Matthiesen, Lisbeth Rischel Hilbert, David Gregory, Birgit Sørensen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    Since 1859 several archaeological excavations have been carried out in Nydam, Denmark revealing a wealth of military equipment sacrificed in the period 200 - 500 AD. During the 1990's more than 16000 artefacts of mainly wood and iron were excavated within an area of only 600 m2. Due to the volume of finds it was decided in 1997 to stop further excavations. At the same time a study program was initiated at the National Museum to evaluate the feasibility of preserving the remaing artefacts in situ for a prolonged period. The study comprises all materials present in Nydam, but this presentation focuses solely on the iron objects. A three-pronged approach has been used in the studies in Nydam: Studies of the excavated artefacts, including the compositon of corrosion products and a mapping of their exact state of preservation. 2) Use of modern iron samples placed in the soil for studies of weight loss, corrosion potential, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and electrical resistivity. 3) Measurements of environmental parameter such as water level, redox potential, oxygen concentration, soil pH, and the concentration of a range of dissolved species in the pore water. This presentation shows some of the results obtained during the seven years of studies at the site. It is demonstrated how the three pronged approach is useful in understanding not only the current corrosion rate and threats against the artefacts but also the corrosion history, i.e. when were the deterioration patterns and corrosion products observed today actually formed. The corrosion rates for archaeological artefacts and modern analogues are compared and briefly discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLong Term Prediction & Modelling of Corrosion
    Publication date2004
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    EventEUROCORR 2004 - Nice, France
    Duration: 12 Sept 200416 Sept 2004


    ConferenceEUROCORR 2004


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