Molecular criteria for discriminating museum Asian lacquerware from different vegetal origins by pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

Abstract : This paper focuses on the identification of several chemical markers of vegetal species of Oriental lacquers with the aim at providing a methodology consistent with sampling restrictions necessarily applied in the field of cultural heritage. The method proposed is based on rapid and easy single step thermally assisted hydrolysis-methylation (THM) pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) analysis that can be carried out with a minimum amount of matter (typically 10 μg for a sample collected on a museum or an archaeological object). The main contribution of this study is to provide multiple molecular criteria for discriminating the three Asian species used for making lacquers, namely Rhus verniciflua Stokes, Rhus succedanea and Melanorrhoea usitata. Because these trees grow in specific areas, identifying the species involved in ancient lacquer coatings also provides geobotanical data and fruitful information on the exchange networks and trading routes developed by ancient societies. With this purpose, a systematic study of all pyrolysis products of lacquer coatings was carried out on modern dried lacquer films from authentified provenance. It was demonstrated that the whole pyrolysis products play a significant role in identifying the vegetal species. The chemotaxonomic value of homologous series of alkanes, alkenes and benzene derivatives, rarely explored until now, was assessed. It was shown that the combination of data related to five distinct groups of pyrolytic markers (composition and/or distribution of alkanes, alkenes and benzene, alkenyl-, alkylcatechol and phenol derivatives) provided new strong criteria to establish vegetal origin and provenance of Asian artworks, even though they have been largely altered over time. Case studies of archaeological Chinese lacquered artefacts and Japanese Buddhistic altar were thereafter successfully investigated to address informative potential and efficiency of these criteria on ancient and degraded lacquer coatings. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Submitted on : Friday, November 29, 2013 - 2:41:31 PM
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A.-S. Le Hô, M. Regert, O. Marescot, C. Duhamel, J. Langlois, et al.. Molecular criteria for discriminating museum Asian lacquerware from different vegetal origins by pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.. Analytica Chimica Acta, Elsevier Masson, 2012, 710, pp.9-16. ⟨10.1016/j.aca.2011.10.024⟩. ⟨hal-00904401⟩

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