Diagnosis and Conservation of Wooden Cultural Heritage

The work done under the Cultural Heritage by IVALSA is aimed to the study of the state of preservation of the material constituting the artefacts - whether a painting on wood, the ceiling of a church or a Roman ship - through the characterization of the raw material, the wood. All activities follow the guidelines provided by the standard on the analysis of wooden artefacts, the UNI 11161:05. This involves first the anatomical recognition of the various wooden elements: to do this, the Institute takes samples of minimum size while ensuring the integrity of the work and prepares them to be adequately observed with optical and electron microscopy in the Laboratory of anatomical characterisation (according to UNI 11118:04). Through the identification is possible to know the group of species or species, obtaining information on the technological characteristics of the material making the artefact. Arising from the determination of the species important information regarding the use of different types of wood, which in the past were selected based on several considerations, including the availability of the material and the aesthetic effect that could derives. In the case of complex structures in wood such as those of churches or historical buildings, the Institute carries out an important diagnostic activity on the wooden structural elements, through the use of non-destructive techniques - visual investigation and use of a resistographic drill of the the Laboratory of physical and mechanical characterization - in agreement with UNI 11119:04.
This type of diagnosis allows providing data on the current mechanical characteristics of each element of the structure.
On the on-site structures it is very frequent the observation of biotic attacks (insects and / or fungi) on wood. The assessment of damage caused by insects is effected by direct observation or by stereomicroscope of the marks left on the artefact. This allows us to identify the agent for the eradication of degradation when the attack is still active and to apply preventive treatments to preserve the artefact after remediation. It is necessary to recognise the status of the attack (past or still active), then the identification of the species through analysis of the holes and tunnels (shape, diameter) of the frass and other objects found (larvae, adult insects). The evaluation of degradation due to fungi is always associated with the study of environmental conditions in which the artefact is located. Also in this case the identification of degradation (type of fungal decay) allows you to find the best solution for the rehabilitation of the artefacts itself.
The research and expertise activity of the interdisciplinary group may use the dating techniques of material from which the artefacts are made by the dendrochronological method at the Laboratory of Dendrochronology operating according to the standard UNI 11141:05.


Nicola Macchioni (person in charge)


[Last updated on: 02-11-2015]
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