EMF - Previous Meetings

November 1998

May 2001

Anglo-Saxon dyes and pigments, and their identification on manuscripts

Mark Clark, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

A brief outline is presented of why it is desirable to identify pigments and dyes on manuscripts; in particular as an aid to localising places and dates of production.

A speculation as to the types of material likely to be present is presented.

Reasons are given why the precise identification of colourants on manuscripts is so much more difficult than it is for other artifacts.

Examples are given of the resulting confusion and ignorance about the composition of C6-C12th manuscripts from the British Isles.

Various ways have been tried to overcome these peculiar problems of analysis, but none are wholly suitable: the analysis of organics remains particularly problematic.

A new technique is currently being developed for in-situ, non-destructive analysis of organic colourants, which it is expected will greatly assist in this: "3-dimensional fluorescence reflectance spectroscopy". The theory and practical application is explained. The proposed development of this technique is described, and initial results are presented.


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