Fire Effects on Archaic Materials, Cultural Resources and Archeology

As specialists know, one of the main problems in applying fire safety engineering to cultural heritage is the lack of data about the behavior of artifacts and materials used in historic buildings to fire. Such problem concerns also the effect of extinguishing agents to the same materials.

Archaic wall in Rome. Although lithic materials are not immediately recognized as at risk of damage in case of fire, even the walls in large stone blocks, such as those in the image, can suffer significant damage if exposed to fire credit: fireriskheritage.

The U.S Department of the Interior – Bureau of Land Department, has published on its website (http://www.blm.gov) a page dedicated to the behavior of historic materials to fire. The study (Bare Bones Guide to Fire Effects on Cultural Resources For Cultural Resource Specialists), by Ms Kate Winthrop, synthesizes some of the technical information available on the effects of fire on cultural resources. In particular, much of the data published  is from drafts of articles for a publication to be released under the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station “Rainbow” series.

the most important aspects covered in the web pages are:

  • Fire Effects on Lithics
  • Fire Effects on Ceramics
  • Fire Effects on Organic Materials
  • Fire Effects on Historic Materials
  • Fire Effects on Inorganic Architectural Materials
  • Fire Effects on Rock Art
  • Effects of Fire Suppression on Cultural Resources
  • Effects of Fire on Archaeological Sites
  • Protection Protocols