Kurt Nielsen's and
Parchment - Ancient and Actual
archment has been used as a writing material from 100 - 200 A. D. (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls) until the late Middle Ages, and manuscripts of parchment may be recognized among the most valuable objects of European cultural heritage. Parchment is the bearer of some of the most essential parts of early written history, which today still constitutes the foundation, in form of ideas, religion and policy, on which the modern European society is based. Large amounts of parchment manuscripts are stored in libraries and museums, where they gradually deteriorate. With the increasing air pollution the deterioration is severely accelerated, and within a few decades an enormous demand for conservation and restoration is expected. If this development has to be slowed down, extensive research in the deterioration has to be carried out in order to form the basis on which effective methods of conservation can be designed. A research group, with participants from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England and France, has now been established to examine the deterioration of parchment. The examinations comprise not only the parchments itself but also the text and illustrations. Since the research is based on historical materials, the available sample sizes are very limited, and an important part of the project deals with the development of micro methods for the analysis of the state of deterioration. The research is partly supported by the European Union and partly by national sources.
Parchment mainly consists of the hide protein (collagen) matrix. The collagen molecule has a molecular weight around 350000 and consists of three peptide chains build from 18 different amino acids. Major parts of the chains are arranged as a triple helix held together by hydrogen bonds between the chains. Several triple helices are the bundled together to form fibres. It is believed that deterioration occurs by cleavage of the peptide chain at sensible positions, whereby the stability of the fibres decrease.
Department of Chemistry is involved in:
-Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (EPR).
EPR-spectra of NO-radical detected in collagen.
- X-ray diffraction.
- Hydrothermal stability measurement.
- Amino acid determination.
Fragment of Dead Sea Scrolls.