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Recognizing ancient papyri by a combination of spectroscopic, diffractional and chromatographic analytical tools

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Ancient papyri are a written heritage of culture that flourished more than 3000 years ago in Egypt. One of the most significant collections in the world is housed in the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in Berlin, from where the samples for our investigation come. The papyrologists, curators and conservators of such collections search intensely for the analytical detail that would allow ancient papyri to be distinguished from modern fabrications, in order to detect possible forgeries, assess papyrus deterioration state, and improve the design of storage conditions and conservation methods. This has become the aim of our investigation. The samples were studied by a number of methods, including spectroscopic (FTIR, fluorescent-FS, Raman) diffractional (XRD) and chromatographic (size exclusion chromatography-SEC), selected in order to determine degradation parameters: overall oxidation of lignocellulosic material, degree of polymerization and crystallinity of cellulose. The results were correlated with those obtained from carefully selected model samples including modern papyri and paper of different composition aged at elevated temperature in humid air. The methods were classified in the order SEC > FS > FTIR > XRD, based on their effectiveness in discriminating the state of papyri degradation. However, the most trustworthy evaluation of the age of papyri samples should rely on several methods.

No MeSH data available.


Comparison of FT-Raman spectra of the model paper samples aged in climatic chamber: (A) – P2 (common legend to Fig. A–C), (B) – P1 and (C) – P3 and papyri samples: (D) – modern and ancient.
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f3: Comparison of FT-Raman spectra of the model paper samples aged in climatic chamber: (A) – P2 (common legend to Fig. A–C), (B) – P1 and (C) – P3 and papyri samples: (D) – modern and ancient.

Mentions: The ageing impact on the same series of samples was also studied by FT Raman spectroscopy (Fig. 3A–D). Many vibrations coming from –C-H and –C=C groups are visible on the spectra of the initial paper samples. These were thoroughly assigned in previous papers by our group911. They are not discussed here, as the most profound effect arising from ageing of the paper samples was not the evolution of bands but the increasing fluorescence manifested by the rise of the background intensity of the spectra. This, in turn, resulted in the decrease in the intensities of the bands due to the decreased sensitivity of the analysis. This effect was found to depend on the lignin content in the sample, and on the ageing time. It is insignificant for the P2 paper, moderate for the P1 paper with low lignin content, and substantial for the P3 sample. The Raman spectra of the papyri samples show a similar trend in fluorescence with age: huge for the ancient papyri and moderate for the modern samples.


Recognizing ancient papyri by a combination of spectroscopic, diffractional and chromatographic analytical tools
Comparison of FT-Raman spectra of the model paper samples aged in climatic chamber: (A) – P2 (common legend to Fig. A–C), (B) – P1 and (C) – P3 and papyri samples: (D) – modern and ancient.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5382779&req=5

f3: Comparison of FT-Raman spectra of the model paper samples aged in climatic chamber: (A) – P2 (common legend to Fig. A–C), (B) – P1 and (C) – P3 and papyri samples: (D) – modern and ancient.
Mentions: The ageing impact on the same series of samples was also studied by FT Raman spectroscopy (Fig. 3A–D). Many vibrations coming from –C-H and –C=C groups are visible on the spectra of the initial paper samples. These were thoroughly assigned in previous papers by our group911. They are not discussed here, as the most profound effect arising from ageing of the paper samples was not the evolution of bands but the increasing fluorescence manifested by the rise of the background intensity of the spectra. This, in turn, resulted in the decrease in the intensities of the bands due to the decreased sensitivity of the analysis. This effect was found to depend on the lignin content in the sample, and on the ageing time. It is insignificant for the P2 paper, moderate for the P1 paper with low lignin content, and substantial for the P3 sample. The Raman spectra of the papyri samples show a similar trend in fluorescence with age: huge for the ancient papyri and moderate for the modern samples.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Ancient papyri are a written heritage of culture that flourished more than 3000 years ago in Egypt. One of the most significant collections in the world is housed in the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in Berlin, from where the samples for our investigation come. The papyrologists, curators and conservators of such collections search intensely for the analytical detail that would allow ancient papyri to be distinguished from modern fabrications, in order to detect possible forgeries, assess papyrus deterioration state, and improve the design of storage conditions and conservation methods. This has become the aim of our investigation. The samples were studied by a number of methods, including spectroscopic (FTIR, fluorescent-FS, Raman) diffractional (XRD) and chromatographic (size exclusion chromatography-SEC), selected in order to determine degradation parameters: overall oxidation of lignocellulosic material, degree of polymerization and crystallinity of cellulose. The results were correlated with those obtained from carefully selected model samples including modern papyri and paper of different composition aged at elevated temperature in humid air. The methods were classified in the order SEC > FS > FTIR > XRD, based on their effectiveness in discriminating the state of papyri degradation. However, the most trustworthy evaluation of the age of papyri samples should rely on several methods.

No MeSH data available.