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Elsevier, Analytica Chimica Acta, 1(638), p. 79-87

DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2009.02.004



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Py-GC/MS, GC/MS and FTIR investigations on LATE Roman-Egyptian adhesives from opus sectile: New insights into ancient recipes and technologies

Journal article published in 2009 by Erika Ribechini ORCID, Sibilla Orsini, Flora Silvano, Maria Perla Colombini
This paper is available in a repository.
This paper is available in a repository.

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An analytical protocol based on optical microscopy, Fourier transforms infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), analytical pyrolysis in the presence of hexamethyldisilazane followed by gas chromatographic/mass spectrometric analysis (Py-GC/MS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry after alkaline hydrolysis, solvent extraction and trimethylsilylation (GC/MS) was used in the chemical characterisation of the original adhesives used to fix monochrome and mosaic glass and stone plaques coming from the Late Roman archaeological site of Antinoopolis (Egypt). FTIR analysis demonstrated the presence of calcite fragments, and Py-GC/MS and GC/MS analyses provided detailed molecular compositions, highlighting the presence of a wide range of compound classes including diterpenoid acids, tricyclic abietanes with a high degree of aromatisation, mid- and long-chain monocarboxylic fatty acids, mono- and di-hydroxy acids, alpha,omega-dicaboxylic fatty acids, n-alkanols, and n-alkanes. Characteristic biomarkers and their distribution patterns indicated the presence of pine pitch in all the adhesives, which in some cases was admixed with beeswax and brassicaceae seed oil. The results provided new insights into the complex recipes used by artisans in ancient Egypt in the production of adhesives and in the sophisticated manufacture of opus sectile decorations.