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Structure and Decay of Organic Materials - 10 credits (HS2319)

A review of structure, refining techniques and deterioration of organic materials used to form cultural objects and artefacts, including wood, paper, leather, parchment, skin, bone, horn, antler, ivory, textiles and organic residues. Most of these materials are either protein- or carbohydratebased. Mechanisms and effects of agencies of decay such as water, light, pollution, biological action or salts are investigated. Deterioration of organic materials in different environments (burial, waterlogged or dry, anaerobic or aerated, acidic or alkaline, atmospheric) is discussed. With this understanding, students are able to assess the current condition of organic materials, identify active agencies of decay and consider the future stability of an object.

Staff: David Watkinson
Teaching: 10 lectures
Assessment: 1 essay (50%) and 1 examination (50%)
Semester: Autumn