Typically, artifacts of wood rot and are gone in a relatively short period of time.  Some larger wooden artifacts may last as long as 100 years or so, but in special environments like muck, ice or dry caves, artifacts have been known to last for hundreds or even thousands of years.  These artifacts are most often recovered through professional archaeological excavations and are curated by laboratories and museums under special temperature-controlled means.  Without special handling and preservation, the few wooden artifacts that have been recovered by avocationalists have fallen apart within a few days or, in some cases, within hours.  If you find a wooden artifact, it is best to keep it wet and get professional help from a contract archaeologist or museum immediately. Most of the artifacts illustrated here are the result of professional recovery and special care.

This wooden pelican effigy was recovered at Key Marco, Florida and dates between A.D. 800 and 1600.  Several bird effigy heads were recovered at the Fort Center site on the northern shore of Lake Okeechobee from the charnal pond.  Key Marco and much of south Florida contains wet muck environments that preserve even painted wooden artifacts for hundreds of years.

This Powhatan canoe from Virginia dates to historic times.  Many canoes have been recovered from the bottoms of lakes, ponds and rivers.  Most of them that are preserved date to the colonial period of history. A few are older, but are in a poorer state of preservation.  One canoe, estimated to be Mississippian in age, was recovered from a peat bog in Clay County, Florida.  Unfortunately it had become part of the peat and did not hold together during the recovery effort.

This collection of wooden bowls is from Key Marco and are part of the collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida.

A variety of wooden boards and plaques with paintings have been recovered from south Florida sites like Key Marco.  Numerous wooden masks like this one with shell eyes give some insight into the ceremonial life of the people of south Florida.

A variety of tools like this shark's tooth knife handle, net float, pestle or hammer, and spool with the palm-fiver rope still attached have been recovered at Key Marco and various other wet sites in Florida.

This wooden stake is believed to be a torch used by the Seminole Indians of Florida.  It still has a fiber twine wrapped around the top as lighter.  It was pointed to be inserted into a whole in the bow of a canoe.  This was a non-professional find.