Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First practical scientific test to date and authenticate priceless silk masterpieces

Date:
October 12, 2011
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists are reporting development of the first fast and reliable scientific method to determine the age and authenticity of priceless silk tapestries and other treasures -- such as Civil War General Phillip Sheridan's famous red-and-white battle flag -- in museums and other collections around the world.

Scientists are reporting development of the first fast and reliable scientific method to determine the age and authenticity of priceless silk tapestries and other treasures -- such as Civil War General Phillip Sheridan's famous red-and-white battle flag -- in museums and other collections around the world.

A report on their work appears in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry.

Mehdi Moini and colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution point out that for thousands of years, silk fibers, consisting of natural protein unwound from the cocoons of the silkworm, have been woven into not just garments, but wall hangings, tapestries, carpets and painted silk artworks. Until now, however, there has been no practical scientific way to tell whether a silk tapestry is a well-preserved example from the Fontainebleu series from the 1540s or a copy made just last week. In many cases, scientists could not use the familiar carbon-14 dating process, because it involves taking samples of material large enough to cause visible damage to the silk object.

Their solution is a new test that tracks time-related deterioration the amino acid building blocks in silk protein. As silk ages, the so-called L-amino acids in its protein changed into so-called D-amino acids. The D/L ratio provides a highly accurate measure of a silk object's age, age to within 50-100 years and whether it is deteriorating and needs conservation work. Archaeologists had used the D/L approach to date ancient teeth and bone, but Moini's team simplified it and adapted it for silk.

The researchers demonstrated the test, called "CE-MS," on Sheridan's flag, a Fontainebleu tapestry, ancient silks from China and other old samples from masterpieces in museums around the world. The method only takes 20 minutes and requires only microscopic samples of silk -- a major improvement over the familiar carbon-14 dating method, which requires large samples that may cause visible damage to the object.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mehdi Moini, Kathryn Klauenberg, Mary Ballard. Dating Silk By Capillary Electrophoresis Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 2011; 83 (19): 7577 DOI: 10.1021/ac201746u

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "First practical scientific test to date and authenticate priceless silk masterpieces." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111012113552.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2011, October 12). First practical scientific test to date and authenticate priceless silk masterpieces. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111012113552.htm
American Chemical Society. "First practical scientific test to date and authenticate priceless silk masterpieces." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111012113552.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


New Technique for Dating Silk

Sep. 13, 2011 For the first time, scientists have developed a fast and reliable method to date silk. This new technique, which is based on capillary electrophoresis mass spectrometry, has great potential to ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins