Exploring the application of instrumental analysis for the conservation of textiles excavated in Greece

Margariti, Christina (2009) Exploring the application of instrumental analysis for the conservation of textiles excavated in Greece. University of Southampton, School of Arts, Doctoral Thesis , 349pp.


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This thesis is one outcome of research aimed to raise the awareness of textiles excavated in Greece.
The inherently sensitive nature of excavated textiles accounts for the rarity and poor condition of the
finds, making them more often than not unidentifiable for the archaeologists, a conservation
challenge and a puzzle for textile historians/curators. Conservators are often the intermediary
between the objects they care for and the people for whom these objects are preserved. Analytical
methods of investigation provide a means of increasing understanding of excavated textiles, and in
this way enhance their conservation. Hence, it was decided to experiment with certain nondestructive,
instrumental analytical methods of investigation, namely stereo, optical and electron
microscopy, coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (ESEM-EDS), FTIR and Raman
microspectroscopy, and XRF spectroscopy, with the aim of material characterisation and
identification. A survey through the Archives of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture revealed 65
different cases where textiles had been preserved in burial contexts. Four different environments
favorable for the preservation of textiles in Greece were identified and four finds representative of
these conditions were selected and subjected to instrumental analysis. The finds are the main case
study, ‘Argos’ (found in association with copper), and ‘Theva’ (found in a charred state), ‘Kalyvia’
(found impregnated with calcium salts) and ‘Nikaia’ (found in association with copper and in anoxic
conditions). The quality of the results varied according to the type of preservation and the condition
of the finds. The combination of stereomicroscopy, ESEM-EDS, XRF and FTIR gave the most
reliable results. The outcomes of the experimentation formed the basis for the development of
guidelines, designed to help archaeologists, conservators and textile historians/curators to
understand and thereby conserve excavated textiles in Greece.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Art
ePrint ID: 162133
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
June 2009Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2010 16:02
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:28
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/162133

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