Micromorphological and chemical characteristics of waterlogged archaeological bamboos excavated from the Yellow Sea
Mi Young Cha, Yoon Soo Kim
Bamboos have widely used as documentation material in Far Eastern countries such China, Korea and Japan. In particular, bamboo slips as documentation material were extensively used even after the wide spread of paper in those countries. A large number of bamboo slips have been excavated from the shipwreck since 2009 in Korea. Understanding the cause of deterioration of ancient bamboos is crucial for developing technology of restoring artifacts of historical and cultural value. When compared to archaeological wood, it is very seldom to find the research work on the ancient bamboo artifacts. In particular, examinations on the waterlogged archaeological bamboo works are rare. The work presented is on bamboo slips which were excavated from a shipwreck. Various microscopical techniques and chemical methods were employed to characterize the waterlogged archaeological bamboos which had been submerged for more than 800 years in the ocean of Yellow Sea. Erosion bacteria were the most important degraders of waterlogged archaeological bamboo cell walls with occasional TEM images indicating presence also of bacterial tunneling. Chemical analyses showed that cellulose and hemicelluloses were extensively degraded with an indication that lignin was also degraded to some extent.