A question for you archeology metallurgical, *and now forensic* experts out there...





+ Log in or register to post
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17
  1. #1

    A question for you archeology metallurgical, *and now forensic* experts out there...

    I am running an adventure in a home-brewed world, which is a desert, wherein the PC's go to an ancient tower in a particularly barren spot. There is no humidity or any life to speak of, where the tower is. It is built on top of a gigantic slab of rock, and there is no sand in the area. The tower itself has several open doors and windows, so the wind can get in (though there is no sand or loose debris to scour items). If the occupants of the tower died 700 years ago and it has not seen life since, what would be the conditions of the items within? What would be the effects of time and environment on the following:
    Steel
    Iron
    Bronze
    Silver
    Gold
    Wood
    Leather (treated)

    Thanks guys, and I definately appreciate your help!
    Last edited by Arravis; Tuesday, 15th April, 2003 at 07:43 PM.

 

  • #2
    I am neither of the experts you asked for, but I am a chemistry major so I'll have a crack...

    Steel will probably be in more or less the same condition, since there's no water to oxidise (rust) the metal, except for perhaps minor deterioration of the alloy. Ditto for Iron.

    Silver will still tarnish, since that's an oxidation.

    Wood and leather will be dried right up, like those bog mummies or mummies from the Alps. The lack of moisture in the air would suck it right out of the materials, making it brittle and super-dry. Treated leather would probably last a little longer, but if it's been 700 years it's as good as done.

    Bronze and gold I'm less certain about. I think they would still be in very good condition since they don't tarnish easily and aren't being abrased. Somebody else might be able to shed light on those two.

    Hope that's helpful.
    Zoom!

  • #3
    I assumed steel would still be there... but iron as well? Interesting to know...

    Anyone have an idea about bodies in such conditions?

  • #4
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)

    buzzard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Arvada
    Posts
    1,845

    ° Ignore buzzard

    Re: A question for you archeology or metallurgical experts out there...

    Originally posted by Arravis
    What would be the effects of time and environment on the following:
    Steel
    Iron
    Bronze
    Silver
    Gold
    Wood
    Leather (treated)

    Thanks guys, and I definately appreciate your help!
    Steel/Iron: We won't go into the particulars which differentiate the two, but for corrosion sake, they will be the same. In a very dry climate they should hold together pretty well witout rusting. Of course 700 years is a damn long time so there might be some rust, but it won't be a pile of dust or anything.

    Bronze: This will likely corrode a bit, but not to extensively given the dry conditions.

    Silver: some tarnish maybe, but not much. Corrosion is a simmilar process in most metals. Keep in mind that silver is less reactive than iron or bronze.

    Gold: as pretty as the day is was mined. Gold essentially doesn't react with anything (except aqua regia- a mixture of concentrated acids).

    Wood: this will be intact, but dry and brittle. If something had been constructed from the wood using peg in socket contruction, shrinkage would either have taken it apart or made it extremely rickety.

    Leather: Also dry as a bone. It will probably have cracks from dehydration. It would most likely crack rather than bend.

    To explain overall, metals corrode by the formation of acids in the presence of water which enables the reactions to take place (like in a battery). The oxygen molecule isn't all that unstable, and won't simply land on a substance and react (well unless it's a VERY reactive substance like sodium or group I metals). You need an ionic transport mechanism, and acids (which water forms when CO2 dissolves into it) do a nice job of this. It doesn't really matter which metals you are talking about. This process is about the same. Things like alumnium or titanium might wear more poorly because of the way they resist corrostion, but that would take a kinetics analysis.

    Organic, or rather, natural substances are generally dependent on water for some of their structure, so drying out can have bad effects. However for natural rot to occur you also need water, so decay is prevented.

    buzzard
    (your friendly neighborhood metallurgist)

  • #5
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)

    buzzard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Arvada
    Posts
    1,845

    ° Ignore buzzard
    Originally posted by Arravis
    I assumed steel would still be there... but iron as well? Interesting to know...

    Anyone have an idea about bodies in such conditions?
    In severely dry conditions you basically end up with a mummy. When it's dry enough, all the trappings are unnecessary. Many an egyptian peasant has been found buried in a hole in about as good a state of preservation as a pharoe. The body gets to be rather like beef jerky (probably not as tasty however).

    buzzard
    mmmm.... jerky

  • #6
    One more question for the experts... would bolts of cloth survive in such an environment?

    P.S.: Yet another... this might seem even odder... imagine a situation where around 30 people are trapped within a tower. They cannot escape from within, and they starve to death (or thirst, which is more likely). Would you think you would find bodies scattered throughout the tower... or would they likely all be placed in one spot, put there by the survivors and perhaps only two or three bodies found outside the designated "dead" room?

    I'm just trying to set up a realist environment for my game, sorry if it seems grissly.
    Last edited by Arravis; Tuesday, 15th April, 2003 at 07:42 PM.

  • #7
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)

    buzzard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Arvada
    Posts
    1,845

    ° Ignore buzzard
    Cloth wouldn't rot, certainly, but I suspect it would become brittle from being dried out rather like wood. This might depend on the type of fiber, though I suspect since they are natural fibers, they shouldn't all all too different.

    As for the bodies, I rather suspect that by the time people are dying of thirst, noone is going to be in good enough shape to move bodies around.

    I suspect you will find either:
    A)Scattered bodies near all the possible exits.
    or
    B)Bodies that were killed to preserve water with maybe a few found together after the last fight.

    The placement of the bodies really has more to do with how you wish to tell the story than anything else.

    buzzard

  • #8
    You can probably use the rule of thumb that
    1. Metals - good condition
    2. Organic substances (including flesh) - Very Dry, brittle, cracked

    As to placement of bodies I'd assume that the first few would be placed ceremoniously but then the others would be left where they died as survivors become too weak to move them...
    Quote Originally Posted by IcyCool
    Man, given the average Int of an Otyugh, I can just see the boss monologue now...

    PCs: "Before we fight, why don't you tell us your master plan?"
    Otyugh: "I like poop."
    PCs: "Umm, what?"
    Otyugh: "Do you have poop?"

  • #9
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)

    tetsujin28's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Dr. Kaneda's secret lab, Oakland CA
    Posts
    1,592

    ° Ignore tetsujin28
    Being an archaeologist myself, let see...

    What's really damaging to textiles is when the temperature fluctuates and there's lots of oxygen, mold, and suchlike (think the Amazon). Textiles do OK in peat bogs, since there's no (or very little) oxygen. If the cloth has been stored (say in rolls), it shouldn't suffer too much damage, the interior being in better shape. If left to the elements, though, it'll be in tatters, at best.

    As others have mentioned, the bodies would be mummified, although the amount of flesh left would vary, depending on whether or not critters were able to get to them.

  • #10
    The tower is atop a plataeu of perfectly black flat stone that is nearly 200 miles wide (the tower being 100 miles in). As you can guess, that would kill pretty much all life there (and nearly killed the party going to it, thankfully they packed their lizard-mounts with nothing but food and water, lots of water). So I'd guess things within will be in surprisingly good condition, except for wood, leathers, and bodies (well, they would be in good condition as far as bodies go ).

    The home-brewed world I'm DMing can be tough to run because of issues like this, but it's been a great time so far. For those interested, it's an Athasian (Dark Sun) style world (ie: metals are very rare, stone-age tech, etc), but without magic and psionics. There are limited magics, but the dozen or so casters that exist in the world don't cast X number of spells per day... it's per week. Additionally, if the party ever does come across a magic weapon... they'll find out it slowly feeds off the user itself to power it's magics . It's a harsh environment and campaign world, but it makes for a fun and unique environment. Most "loot" is making weapons, armor and equipment out of the monsters you encounter, lol. You should see the look in the player's eyes when they meet a creature whose chittin would make a good weapon.. . Anyway, thanks for all the help guys, it's been VERY helpful!

  • + Log in or register to post
    Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

    Similar Threads

    1. Any FR experts able to help with setting question?
      By Malin Genie in forum RPGs & Tabletop Gaming Discussion
      Replies: 7
      Last Post: Wednesday, 10th September, 2003, 01:12 AM
    2. Dragonlance CS / Novel question for experts
      By Razuur in forum RPGs & Tabletop Gaming Discussion
      Replies: 8
      Last Post: Tuesday, 26th August, 2003, 03:10 AM
    3. Question For Viking Experts
      By Andrew D. Gable in forum RPGs & Tabletop Gaming Discussion
      Replies: 32
      Last Post: Saturday, 26th April, 2003, 08:28 AM
    4. A question for CR experts.
      By Flexor the Mighty! in forum RPGs & Tabletop Gaming Discussion
      Replies: 14
      Last Post: Tuesday, 12th November, 2002, 11:24 PM
    5. question for the GURPS experts
      By buzzard in forum RPGs & Tabletop Gaming Discussion
      Replies: 11
      Last Post: Saturday, 5th October, 2002, 12:06 AM

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •