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Surveying silk fibre degradation by crystallinity determination: a study on the Tang-Dynasty silk treasure from Famen Temple, China

Surveying silk fibre degradation by crystallinity determination: a study on the Tang-Dynasty silk treasure from Famen Temple, China
Surveying silk fibre degradation by crystallinity determination: a study on the Tang-Dynasty silk treasure from Famen Temple, China
When Chinese archaeologists opened an unknown vault under the collapsed pagoda of Famen Temple near Xian (Shaanxi Province, NW China) in 1987, they found a vast amount of valuable silk textiles. The degraded textiles were part of a treasure comprising hundreds of artifacts deposited by Tang dynasty (ad 618–907) emperors as a gift to the temple.

Run as a bilateral German-Chinese project, the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz established a textile conservation laboratory in Shaanxi´s provincial capital Xian in 2001, joining numerous other laboratories that have existed there since the early 1990s.

This preliminary study represents part of an ongoing investigation programme that accompanies the conservation work. The Tang dynasty silk is generally in a very poor state of preservation as a result of its long burial period. Large sections have only survived as an amorphous brown mass of fibre debris. Some parts are better preserved, however, offering the unique opportunity to study the whole range of degradation stages on ancient silks.

This preliminary scientific investigation focuses on the determination of the silk fibres’ crystallinity and its relation to the ageing process. As we know from modern material, silk is mainly crystalline, albeit in a somewhat amorphous state. The methods of investigation used were X-ray diffraction (XRD) using synchrotron radiation, which is a new way to determine crystallinity of ancient silk fibres; and polarized Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) for the determination of crystallite orientation. Both methods were specifically devised to gain information on small single fibres.
silk, degradation, synchrotron study, polarized ir spectroscopy, famen, china
1873132794
38-43
Archetype
Greiff, Susanne
abbc666b-5eea-45f6-8e68-0455505724d0
Kutzke, Hartmut
35c3232d-eb36-482e-9510-4ba291016386
Riekel, Christian
6ad7212b-85db-4e95-8b46-3550a71a7daf
Wyeth, Paul
1ec102cc-ce1c-4b58-81dd-a8a33b559081
Lahlil, Sophia
472ea973-b748-4561-90c3-178437948af8
Janaway, Rob
Wyeth, Paul
Greiff, Susanne
abbc666b-5eea-45f6-8e68-0455505724d0
Kutzke, Hartmut
35c3232d-eb36-482e-9510-4ba291016386
Riekel, Christian
6ad7212b-85db-4e95-8b46-3550a71a7daf
Wyeth, Paul
1ec102cc-ce1c-4b58-81dd-a8a33b559081
Lahlil, Sophia
472ea973-b748-4561-90c3-178437948af8
Janaway, Rob
Wyeth, Paul

Greiff, Susanne, Kutzke, Hartmut, Riekel, Christian, Wyeth, Paul and Lahlil, Sophia (2005) Surveying silk fibre degradation by crystallinity determination: a study on the Tang-Dynasty silk treasure from Famen Temple, China. Janaway, Rob and Wyeth, Paul (eds.) In Scientific Analysis of Ancient and Historic Textiles. Archetype. pp. 38-43 .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

When Chinese archaeologists opened an unknown vault under the collapsed pagoda of Famen Temple near Xian (Shaanxi Province, NW China) in 1987, they found a vast amount of valuable silk textiles. The degraded textiles were part of a treasure comprising hundreds of artifacts deposited by Tang dynasty (ad 618–907) emperors as a gift to the temple.

Run as a bilateral German-Chinese project, the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz established a textile conservation laboratory in Shaanxi´s provincial capital Xian in 2001, joining numerous other laboratories that have existed there since the early 1990s.

This preliminary study represents part of an ongoing investigation programme that accompanies the conservation work. The Tang dynasty silk is generally in a very poor state of preservation as a result of its long burial period. Large sections have only survived as an amorphous brown mass of fibre debris. Some parts are better preserved, however, offering the unique opportunity to study the whole range of degradation stages on ancient silks.

This preliminary scientific investigation focuses on the determination of the silk fibres’ crystallinity and its relation to the ageing process. As we know from modern material, silk is mainly crystalline, albeit in a somewhat amorphous state. The methods of investigation used were X-ray diffraction (XRD) using synchrotron radiation, which is a new way to determine crystallinity of ancient silk fibres; and polarized Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) for the determination of crystallite orientation. Both methods were specifically devised to gain information on small single fibres.

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More information

Published date: 1 September 2005
Venue - Dates: First Annual Conference of the AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies, Scientific Analysis of Ancient and Historic Textiles: Informing Preservation, Display and Interpretation, Winchester, United Kingdom, 2004-07-12 - 2004-07-14
Keywords: silk, degradation, synchrotron study, polarized ir spectroscopy, famen, china

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 18715
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/18715
ISBN: 1873132794
PURE UUID: 38d91ac1-05ef-49a6-b100-47efb61134d1

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Nov 2005
Last modified: 22 Apr 2020 16:38

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Contributors

Author: Susanne Greiff
Author: Hartmut Kutzke
Author: Christian Riekel
Author: Paul Wyeth
Author: Sophia Lahlil
Editor: Rob Janaway
Editor: Paul Wyeth

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