Nav: Home

Medieval inks for heritage conservation

February 05, 2019

The fact that historical archives, libraries, museums, writing workshops and even monasteries, currently conserve medieval manuscripts is not only a question of heroes or ordinary people who went through the trouble to save them, passing them down from one generation to the next, or who hid them so they would not be destroyed. The materials used to write and draw upon paper were crucial so that surviving written texts can be read, translated and interpreted nowadays.

Figuring out the chemical reactions of the components that made writing on paper possible and last for hundreds of years was the aim of the Meridies Medieval History research group at the University of Cordoba. For months, this group has focused its work on these chemical reactions in collaboration with chemists at Nova University Lisbon.

This team, headed by University of Cordoba Medieval History Professor Ricardo Córdoba, carried out the duplication of five medieval inks, using each and every 15th and 16th century ingredient and method to do so. How did they do it? By analyzing handwritten recipes for making ink, painstakingly searching in several parts of the world such as the Bishop Chancellery in Braga, Portugal, where a 1464 recipe is kept, the School of Medicine Library in Montpellier, with another dated between 1469 and 1480, as well as the Historical Archive of Cordoba Province, dated 1474.

These five unpublished documents allowed for replicating the five inks. Pomegranate peels, galls used by plants for defense against parasites, vitriol, water, and gum arabic made from recipes using animal skins, are some of the ingredients that make up these inks and the ones that researchers mixed in the exact same quantity, proportion, temperature and method as indicated in the medieval recipes, and with which it was possible to replicate the exact same inks as the ones used six centuries ago.

The results of this collaborative research between historians and chemists were recently published in the journal Heritage Science. This research included translations of the texts and procedures outlined in the medieval recipes, the making of the inks following the step-by-step directions contained in the recipes, and the analysis of the chemical reactions of these ingredient combinations, with the aim of finding keys to conserving written heritage. By means of exact replication and analysis of inks used in the Middle Ages, researchers can determine which treatments historical documents should undergo in order to recover and improve their current condition and, above all, ensure that they will physically last longer.
-end-
Hidalgo, RJD; Cordoba, R; Nabais, P; Silva, V; Melo, MJ; Pina, F; Teixeira, N; Freitas, V New insights into iron-gall inks through the use of historically accurate reconstructions HERITAGE SCIENCE, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1186/s40494-018-0228-8

University of Córdoba

Related Chemical Reactions Articles:

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level
Scientists have succeeded in 'filming' inter-molecular chemical reactions -- using the electron beam of a transmission electron microscope as a stop-frame imaging tool.
Study: Some catalysts contribute their own oxygen for reactions
New MIT research shows that metal-oxide catalysts can sometimes release oxygen from within their structure, enhancing chemical activity.
Chemists uncover a means to control catalytic reactions
Scientists at the University of Toronto have found a way to make catalysis more selective, breaking one chemical bond 100 times faster than another.
Deep insights from surface reactions
Using the Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, researchers have developed biosensors that can speed up drug development, designed improved materials for desalinization, and explored new ways of generating energy from bacteria.
Scientists trace 'poisoning' in chemical reactions to the atomic scale
A combination of experiments, including X-ray studies at Berkeley Lab, revealed new details about pesky deposits that can stop chemical reactions vital to fuel production and other processes.
How solvent molecules cooperate in reactions
Molecules from the solvent environment that at first glance seem to be uninvolved can be essential for chemical reactions.
Scientists rev up speed of bionic enzyme reactions
Bionic enzymes got a needed boost in speed thanks to new research at the Berkeley Lab.
Adverse drug reactions may be under-reported in young children
A new study reveals that adverse drug reactions in newborns and infants may be under-reported.
New model predicts once-mysterious chemical reactions
A team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Curtin University in Australia developed a theoretical model to forecast the fundamental chemical reactions involving molecular hydrogen.
Syracuse University chemists add color to chemical reactions
Members of the Maye Research Group at Syracuse University have designed a nanomaterial that changes color when it interacts with ions and other small molecules during a chemical reaction.

Related Chemical Reactions Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...