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THE USE OF NEAR INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY AS A DIAGNOSTIC TOOL FOR HISTORIC SILK ARTEFACTS

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Author(s): Emma Richardson | Paul Garside

Journal: E-Preservation Science
ISSN 1854-3928

Volume: 6;
Start page: 68;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Silk | non-invasive analysis | in situ | Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy | multivariate analysis (MVA)

ABSTRACT
As a prestigious and expensive textile, silk is found in manyhistoric artefacts of cultural importance. However, as silkages it becomes increasingly fragile and thus prone to damagethrough handling, display or even conservation treatment;these problems are exacerbated by some of the processingmethods traditionally applied to such materials.Therefore, in order to minimise the danger to these objects,it is vital to have a good understanding of the physical stateof the silk component. It is shown that near infrared spectroscopy,in combination with multivariate analysis, providesa method of assessing the stresses within a silk artefact,thereby highlighting areas at particular risk and allowinginformed decisions to be made as to the potential dangersof intervention. As near infrared spectroscopy mayreadily be used with a fibre optic probe, these analyses canbe performed in situ, rapidly and in a non-invasive manner,thus allowing assessment to be carried out in collectionsand displays without requiring samples to be taken, limitingthe disturbance to artefacts. Therefore, the technique providesa valuable tool to gain a practical understanding ofthe condition of silk artefacts, and a means of informingconservation, display and storage strategies.
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