Measuring the Burn Temperature of Pompeiian Wood Fuel Charcoals

Project: Research


This project will carry out a pilot study on a subset of archaeological charcoals
from Pompeii to measure their burn temperatures in relation to their interpreted
use (e.g. iron working, ritual, and domestic use) and in relation to the type of wood burnt, using a newly applied scientific method called charcoal reflectance. Burn temperature can be used to infer whether raw wood or 'commercial' charcoal has been consumed. High temperatures imply the likely use of charcoal, which in its turn has required the consumption of between 7, to as much as 20, tonnes of raw wood to make 1 tonne of charcoal (depending on the quality). The well documented site of Pompeii provides much complementary data for interpreting the results both culturally and economically. Inferences regarding forest exploitation for fuel and sustainability may be addressed and the results, if successful, could be expanded to larger data sets. Extended results could inform forest management practices in the modern day for third world and developing countries which are still substantially wood fuel dependent.
Effective start/end date1/03/1030/11/10


British Academy: £6,200

ID: 21687820