SIFT-ing the Balms at the Egyptian Museum in Turin Tells Us the Story of Kha and Merit

45 days ago

Professor Ilaria Degano and Dr Jacopo La Nasa, together with colleagues at the University of Pisa, Italy, are pioneers in the application of SIFT-MS to heritage science. They recently made me aware of this press release (http://scich.dcci.unipi.it/news/45-kha.html), which Prof. Degano kindly translated (see below) and provided several photos.   Watch this space: we’ll let you know when more technical details can be shared!

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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 the course of publication, have persuaded the staff of the Egyptian Museum to extend the study to a wider range of objects, including mummies that will soon be exposed in a dedicated area of the museum. The new study includes 30 additional items found in the 3500 year old tomb during the 1906 excavations.

Within a research project funded by the Regione Toscana and supported by the 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 a molecular level, in a completely non-invasive and non-destructive way. SIFT-MS has been applied to detect the VOCs still present in trace amounts in the amorphous materials inside the containers or adsorbed to the ceramic.

SIFT-MS has been applied to detect the VOCs still present in trace amounts in the amorphous materials inside the containers or adsorbed to the ceramic.

The investigation has been performed with a transportable SIFT-MS instrument, which is commonly employed in medical studies to perform breath analysis or in the environmental monitoring of pollutants and 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.

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Lalit Rane Bsc IT
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