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Title: The effects of open shelters on the preservation of limestone remains at archaeological sites
Author: Cabello Briones, Cristina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 1044
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Shelters, as preventive conservation methods, have traditionally been considered a better option than leaving the site exposed. However, there has been limited research on their effect on the preservation of heritage materials and, as a result, there is no clear scientific evidence to support sheltering. This study aims to provide the first rigorous scientific assessment of the effect of lightweight, open shelters on limestone deterioration at archaeological sites. A method based on the use of low-cost environmental monitoring equipment and limestone blocks and tablets (as indicators of decay) has been developed to determine the degree of protection provided by the shelters at the Bishop' Palace (Witney, England) and Hagar Qim (Malta). Preliminary visual assessments of the field sites were followed by 12-18 month exposure trials. Temperature extremes and fluctuations, frost events, relative humidity extremes and fluctuations, NaCl crystallisation events, solar radiation, wetting events, salt content, atmospheric pollutants and dust deposition were monitored. In addition, stone decay was studied by analysing changes in weight, elasticity, surface hardness, ultrasonic pulse velocity, surface colour, moisture content and general appearance (microscopic and macroscopic pictures) in stone samples. An exhaustive assessment of the shelter at the Bishop's Palace was carried out using Chalk, Cotswold and Portland limestone blocks as well as Portland limestone tablets (specifically for studying dissolution, soiling and biological growth). Additionally, a comparative assessment of the effects of the two shelters in contrasting climatic environments, the Bishop's Palace (temperate maritime) and Hagar Qim (Mediterranean), was undertaken by monitoring Globigerina and Coralline limestone blocks simultaneously at both sites. The research has shown that lightweight, open shelters do not exclude decay completely but minimise it. However, there are some areas at higher risk of decay, i.e. top parts of the walls and the periphery. In addition, problems with the shelter design can enhance some decay mechanisms, such as biocolonisation on the periphery at the Bishop's Palace and dust deposition under the shelter at Hagar Qim. Therefore, the effectiveness of shelters should not be assumed.
Supervisor: Viles, Heather A. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ; Obra Social "La Caixa"
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Excavations (Archaeology) ; Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration ; Monuments--Conservation and restoration ; Limestone ; Stone--Conservation and restoration ; Witney (England)--Buildings ; structures ; etc. ; Malta--Antiquities