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Raman spectroscopy of coloured resins used in antiquity: dragon's blood and related substances.

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Department of Chemical and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford, UK.


Dragon's blood is a deep red resin which has been used for centuries by many cultures and much prized for it's rarity, depth of colour and alchemical associations. The original source of dragon's blood resin is believed to be Dracaena cinnabari from Socotra in Africa, but since mediaeval times there have been several alternatives from different geographical locations from the Canary Islands to the East Indies. Here, the Raman spectra of dragon's blood resins from Dracaena draco Liliacae trees growing in several different locations bordering the Mediterranean and Middle East are compared with the resins from alternative botanical sources such as Daemonorops draco, Dracaena cinnabari and Eucalyptus terminalis, which all generically come under the description of dragon's blood. Key vibrational spectroscopic marker bands are identified in the Raman spectra of the resins, which are suggested for adoption as a protocol for the identification of the botanical and possible geographical sources of modern dragon's blood resins. The Raman spectra of materials, which are falsely attributed to dragon's blood resin are also shown for comparison and identification purposes. Changes in the Raman spectra of genuine dragon's blood resin specimens arising from simple processing treatment during the preparation of the resins for sale are also identified, which suggests a possible attribution characteristic for unknown samples.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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