Tools for Predicting Damage to Archaeological Sites Caused by One-Dimensional Loading

Dominique Ngan-Tillard, Ronald Brinkgreve, DJ Huisman, Hans (D.J.) van Meerten, Axel Müller, Kirsten van Kappel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Tools are developed to predict damage to archaeological remains caused by the construction of line infrastructure on soft soil. They are based on numerical modelling and laboratory testing supported by X-ray microcomputed tomographic observations, and micromorphological analyses of thin sections. They have been validated for one-dimensional (1D) loading at two sites in the Netherlands where soil has been placed on top of organic layers rich in ecofacts and overlaying Pleistocene sands. Numerical prediction of the deformation of soft layers underneath an embankment remains a challenge for geo-technical engineers. Errors on surface settlement prediction reach ±15% of the measured total settlement. DOI 10.1080/13505033.2016.1181934 One-Dimensional Loading 71 Laboratory observations show that vulnerable artefacts can get crushed when packed loosely in pure assemblies under 1D loading equivalent to less than 5 m of sand. Fragmentation is assimilated to loss of archaeological value as it compromises recovery during sieving. Embedment in a sandy or a very compressible organic matrix has a beneficial effect on the resistance of ecofacts. Embedded ecofacts can resist a load of more than 12 m of sand. Flattening and re-orientation of soft plant remains occur during 1D loading without microscopic damage of tissues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-85
JournalConservation and Management of Archaeological Sites
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • wetland archaeology
  • one-dimensional compression
  • damage
  • X-ray microcomputed tomography


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