The probes measure temperature, redox and moisture in the layers. Photo: Knut Pasche, NIKU

When organic masses decay they compress deposits, making them difficult or even impossible to interpret.

Archaeological deposits are soil layers showing traces of human activity. Dehydration, temperature fluctuations and exposure to oxygen and microorganisms are among the greatest threats to the preservation of these layers as future sources of knowledge.

Recording the environment and changes in it over time tells us how the preservation conditions are changing in the remaining archaeological deposits. If dramatic changes are observed, remedial measures must be implemented.


Monitoring samples.

Examples of potential measures include covering with clay, adding water or changing the chemical composition by adding minerals. Ultimately, assessing the monitoring results could result in one choosing to preserve the cultural-historical information in the deposits by conducting archaeological excavations.

NIKU’s archaeologists have worked on archaeological deposit monitoring for some time. The goal has been to develop tools and methods that ensure that monitoring also results in the archaeological deposits being preserved for the future.