“Red stains on archaeological leather..." by Koochakzaei & Achachluei (2015)

Koochakzaei, Alireza; Achachluei, Mohsen Mohammadi; “Red stains on archaeological leather: degradation characteristics of a shoe from the 11th–13th centuries (Seljuk period, Iran)”, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 54(1) (2015) 45–56.
DOI: 10.1179/1945233014Y.0000000033 (Maney Online, restricted access)

In 2006 several valuable leather objects were found during archaeological excavation of Ghalee-Kooh-i Ghaen (a historic stronghold from the Seljuk period, 11th–13th centuries) in the South Khorasan province of Iran. When examined after 5 years, there were red stains on the remnants of a shoe with poor strength and powdery surface similar to red rot decay. Since red rot is more common in manufactured leathers from the mid-19th century, the purpose of this research was to clarify the structural features and degradation factors responsible for red stains on the shoe. Chemical spot tests, isolation and identification of fungi, pH measurements, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy were used to achieve these aims. These measurement results corresponded to lime depilation, tanning with alum and vegetable tannins, and the possible use of CuSO4 as a preservative of skin in leather-making process. Cladosporium sp. and Penicillium sp. were isolated from the shoe, but Trichophyton sp. was characterized as the main biodeterioration factor. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and pH measurements indicated hydrolysis and acidic degradation of the leather. The characteristics of the red stains were similar to those exhibited by red rot. Therefore, archaeological leathers tanned with alum and vegetable tannins may be exposed to acidic degradation like red rot decay.


“Analytical techniques used for the characterization and authentification of six ancient religious manuscripts (XVIII–XIX centuries)” by Vornicu et al (2015)

Vornicu, Nicoleta; Deselnicu, Viorica; Bibire, Cristina; Ivanov, Daniela; Doroftei, Florica; “Analytical techniques used for the characterization and authentification of six ancient religious manuscripts (XVIII–XIX centuries)”, Microscopy Research and Technique 78(1) (2015) 70–84.
DOI: 10.1002/jemt.22447 (Wiley Online Library)

This article presents the experimental results of a research on six manuscripts (three of the XVIII century and three of XIX century) belonging collection of old religious books to the Moldovan Metropolitan Church of Romania. Non-invasive techniques (optical microscopy [OM], scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray system, X-ray fluorescence analysis, shrinkage temperature, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy/attentuated total reflectance) provided information on the degree of degradation and identification of the leather bookbinding type. Moreover, visual assessment and OM revealed the extent of the surface degradation (wane, biological attack, change color, etc.). The degradation extent of the skin bindings was determined on the 12 samples. The insight on the mechanism of degradation was accomplished by analyzing the deterioration of collagen fibers in terms of shrinkage temperature and chemical modifications induced by oxidative and hydrolytic processes. Shrinkage temperature values were lower compared with the literature data for collagen, indicating that the leather bookbinding suffered intrinsic damage. Morphological analysis was accomplished by microscopy and allowed the identification of skin type and provided information about its processing technique. Mineral elements were identified for leather composition and contributed to the information regarding the origin and the extent of degradation of the leather bookbinding, of the studied manuscripts. The analyzed results were useful in determining the state of preservation and were able to provide an increased efficiency of further restoration. The correlation of the obtained data brought new contributions to the knowledge of the leather covers for the book technique in the XVIII and XIX centuries in monastic workshops of Eastern Europe.