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

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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.


Schematics of the degradation pathways of lignocellulosic materials and their effect observable at different scales.
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f7: Schematics of the degradation pathways of lignocellulosic materials and their effect observable at different scales.

Mentions: In general, the degradation of lignocellulosic systems proceeds along three reaction pathways: hydrolysis, oxidation and crystallization, which are interlaced with each other. The formation of carboxylic groups upon oxidation catalyzes the hydrolysis β,D-glycosidic bonds and, conversely, hydrolysis provides new reducing end groups for oxidation. What is more, hydrolysis always accompanies oxidation, since water emerges as a side product of oxidation. Taking into account that real paper samples contain already degraded cellulose and lignin, both of which are sources of the active oxygen species and radicals necessary to initiate oxidation, degradation seems self-sustainable once it starts. The general schematics of possible mechanisms of degradation, its effects and measurable observables is depicted in Fig. 7. Detailed information on degradation pathways can be found in our previous papers825.


Recognizing ancient papyri by a combination of spectroscopic, diffractional and chromatographic analytical tools
Schematics of the degradation pathways of lignocellulosic materials and their effect observable at different scales.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

f7: Schematics of the degradation pathways of lignocellulosic materials and their effect observable at different scales.
Mentions: In general, the degradation of lignocellulosic systems proceeds along three reaction pathways: hydrolysis, oxidation and crystallization, which are interlaced with each other. The formation of carboxylic groups upon oxidation catalyzes the hydrolysis β,D-glycosidic bonds and, conversely, hydrolysis provides new reducing end groups for oxidation. What is more, hydrolysis always accompanies oxidation, since water emerges as a side product of oxidation. Taking into account that real paper samples contain already degraded cellulose and lignin, both of which are sources of the active oxygen species and radicals necessary to initiate oxidation, degradation seems self-sustainable once it starts. The general schematics of possible mechanisms of degradation, its effects and measurable observables is depicted in Fig. 7. Detailed information on degradation pathways can be found in our previous papers825.

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.