The application of macro-X-ray fluorescence and optical coherence tomography for examination of parchment manuscripts

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Piotr Targowski; Małgorzata Pronobis-Gajdzis; Aleksandra Surmak; Magdalena Iwanicka; Ewa A. Kaszewska; Marcin Sylwestrzak;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 60, Number S1, p.S167-S177 (2015)


Macro-X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a newly commercially available research tool very useful in the examination of artwork. Its novelty lies in its ability to create maps of the distribution of chemical elements on scales of a few milimetres. In this contribution, its use together with optical coherence tomography (OCT) in the inspection of an illuminated manuscript is reported for the first time. The former technique is used both for mapping the elemental distribution over large parts of the folios – including illuminated initials – and for quantitative analysis of the composition of the smalt pigment, as well as of changes in the composition of iron–gall ink at different pages. The latter, by providing cross-sectional images of painted details, helps in interpreting the XRF results. All of the results shown relate to the examination of a late sixteenth-century-illuminated parchment manuscript (a gradual) originating from the Convent of the Benedictine Sisters in Lviv in the Ukraine.