Understanding Ancient Parchments using Analytical Chemistry

8 January 2015, London, United Kingdom

Parchment derived from animal skins has been used for millennia as a writing medium. Over the centuries, it has been used both for everyday working documents, including death warrants, deeds, solicitors letters and maps, and historical and culturally significant documents, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Magna Carta, the Doomsday book, and the Declaration of Independence. Although its use has declined since its zenith in the medieval period, parchment is still used today for important documents like acts of parliament.

Join Lee Gonzalez as he discusses some of the problems with collagen, a major structural component of parchment, and outlines the key manufacturing stages of historical parchment. He will put into context some of the challenges that conservators face when trying to understand parchment records and, using specific examples, discuss some of the analytical methods that can be used to qualify and quantify degradation.

Lee Gonzalez is currently an adjunct associate lecturer of Charles Sturt University and is Chairman of the Analytical Methods Sub-committee for Heritage Science. He has worked on the Apocalypto 'Revealing the Unreadable' project, and was awarded a research fellowship from the Science and Heritage programme, studying the effects of temperature and relative humidity of parchment collections.

The Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BA, United Kingdom

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