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Soft Rot and Wood Pseudomorphs in an Ancient Coffin (700 Bc) From Tumulus Mm at Gordion, Turkey

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An 8th century B. C. tomb at Gordion, Turkey, thought to be the burial site of the legendary Phrygian King Midas, contained a massive deteriorated log coffin, furniture, bronze vessels and many other works of an. This paper describes the micromorphological condition of the wooden coffin and the forms of deterioration that were found. Soft rot decay was the only form of biological degradation that occurred throughout the coffin. Advanced stages of soft rot were evident within the wood cells with numerous soft rot cavities located in the secondary wall layers. In areas of the coffin immediately adjacent to iron bars and nails, soft rot cavities were not observed. Instead, iron corrosion products were evident within these cells, and pseudomorphs (iron replicas) of wood cells were observed. A nonbiological type of cell wall deterioration was apparent in wood where iron corrosion products were present. These iron replicas provided an unusual opportunity to observe reverse images of tracheid cell walls. The importance to wood anatomists in recognising the morphological characteristics of soft rot also is discussed so that misidentification of ancient deteriorated wood can be avoided.


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