Unraveling the history and science behind ancient decorative metal threads

phys.org | 10/11/2017 | Staff
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When it comes to historical fashion, nothing stands out more than an item woven with shiny metal threads. These threads have been woven into textiles since ancient times and have been used by cultures around the world. However, the historical record has limited insight into how these materials were made, and conservation efforts limit scientists' ability to obtain samples because many methods are destructive. Today, researchers report their progress toward a new, less damaging methodology for analyzing metal threads.

The researchers will present their results at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition.

Project - Metal - Threads - Century - Italian

"This project began when we were asked to investigate the metal threads of a 14th century Italian textile using a proteomics-based approach," says Caroline Solazzo, Ph.D., who is one of the project's principal investigators. Her team published a study last year characterizing the protein-containing membranes and adhesives in the threads of this artifact, which were made from animal products such as cow hide and pig intestine. Now, the team is reporting on their investigation into the exact composition of metal fibers of this and other historical objects.

"Conservation science is a unique area of chemistry research," says Aleksandra Popowich, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting. "We are using microscopy techniques that allow us to build a 3-D view of the threads, so we can see things like layering and micro-structure that give us insight into when and how the fibers were made." Both Solazzo and Popowich are researchers at the Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute, a center for specialized technical collections research and conservation of artistic, anthropological, biological and historical artifacts.

Metal - Threads - Subject - Research - Interest

While decorative metal threads have been a subject of historical research interest for decades, studies to determine their manufacture and makeup have relied on cross-section analysis to view the internal metal structure. The current...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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