Preliminary analysis by FTIR spectroscopy of ancient Egyptian embalmed heads from the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the University of Turin (Italy)

Author: Dell'Anna Alida ; Typology: tesi di Laurea Specialistica in Scienze e Tecnologie per la Diagnostica e la Conservazione dei BB. CC.

Licence: CreativeCommons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 ; Year: 2010; Language: italiano

Download pdf ( Kb)                                            On-line publication date: 28/02/2012

FTIR spectroscopy has been employed to verify the preservation state of some Egyptian embalmed heads stored in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of Turin. The aim of the research is to document preserved molecular information, cultural treatment and general condition of the tissues in order to plan modern conservation procedures. Eight embalmed heads and one naturally mummified were tested. Infrared absorption measurements were performed in transmission mode, within the 4000-250 cm-1 wavenumber range on pellets obtained by mixing ~1.5 mg of sample with KBr (100 mg). The infrared spectra of the ancient skin specimens were compared with the spectrum of a modern skin sample. The preservation of the samples state was evaluated on the base of the position and shape of the proteins characteristic bands (Amide A, B, I II and III) and lipids (νas(CH2) and νs(CH2), δsciss(CH2) and δrock(CH2)). Different degrees of deterioration were observed: some samples were in a quite good preservation state and other ones displayed a rather high protein deterioration evidenced in the deformation of Amide I and II features, the preservation degree growing with the depth of the layers of collected skin. One of them showed a very high degradation state testified by huge modifications of the protein and lipid bands and by the presence of some adipocere characteristic absorption bands. The naturally mummified sample seemed the best preserved. The occurrence in the spectra of some features extraneous to the biological nature of the samples has been related to embalming chemicals.      


Additional information