Volume 29, Issue 2 (April 1984)
Microanalysis of Painted Manuscripts and of Colored Archeological Materials by Raman Laser Microprobe
In the field of historical analysis of works of art, specialists may have at their disposal only tiny fragments or even just traces of an object. In recent years, several microinvestigative techniques (electronic microprobes, photoelectron spectroscopy, ion, and nuclear or Raman laser microprobes) have been perfected. These techniques can afford, henceforth, precious data to experts involved in the analysis of very small fragments of matter. The Raman laser microprobe (RLMP), which can theoretically identify or characterize any chemical substances (inorganic or organic), is thus suited to the examination of many archeological materials. As for the small samples required by RLMP (their size may be as small as a few micrometres), this technique can greatly aid authentification with no major damage to the historic art object being examined. In the few case studies presented here, we show that ancient inorganic pigments have been easily identified by this technique. These preliminary studies describe also the possibility of an analysis in situ, in which no sample taking is necessary. Such a nondestructive microinvestigation is therefore particularly suited to the identification of any precious or fragile materials with pigments. This possibility has been and is being explored successfully in various field such as gemology (for authentification), biology, and criminology.