Professor Ilaria Degano and Dr Jacopo La Nasa, together with colleagues at the University of Pisa, Italy, are pioneering application of SIFT-MS in heritage science. They recently made me aware of this press release (http://scich.dcci.unipi.it/news/45-kha.html) and Prof. Degano kindly translated it, as below, and provided several photos.
Watch this space: we’ll let you know when more technical details can be shared!
After the preliminary campaign performed in July, the tomb of Kha and Merit at the Egyptian Museum in Turin has been further investigated last week by the team from the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry of the University of Pisa. The promising results of the first campaign, now in course of publication, have persuaded the staff of the Egyptian Museum to extend the study to a wider range of objects, including some mummies which will soon be exposed in a dedicated area of the museum. The new study has included 30 additional items found in the 3500 year old tomb during the 1906 excavations.
In the frame of a research project funded by the Regione Toscana and thanks for the support of SRA instruments company (MS-MoMus project), the chemists from Pisa teamed up with the archaeologists and curators of the Museums, to investigate the content of thirty amphoras, vases and small vessels at molecular level, in a completely non-invasive nor destructive way. SIFT has in fact been applied to detect the Volatile Organic Compounds still present in traces inside the amorphous materials in the containers, or adsorbed by the ceramic.
“…SIFT has in fact been applied to detect the Volatile Organic Compounds still present in traces inside the amorphous materials in the containers, or adsorbed by the ceramic.”
Photo credit: Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni, Museo Egizio.
The investigation has been performed with a transportable SIFT-MS (Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometry), which is commonly employed in medical studies to perform breath analysis or in environmental monitoring of pollutants, and which has recently proved suitable for applications in Heritage Science. The results will be complemented by analyses performed in the laboratory with more conventional techniques.
The investigation has involved Dr. Jacopo La Nasa, Camilla Guerrini (master student), prof. Francesca Modugno, prof. Erika Ribechini, prof. Ilaria Degano and prof. Maria Perla Colombini from the University of Pisa; Dr. Andrea Carretta from SRA Instruments, and Valentina Turina, Federica Facchetti and Enrico Ferraris from the Egyptian Museum.