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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Feb;402(4):1493-503. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-5270-2. Epub 2011 Jul 31.

Provenance studies on Dead Sea scrolls parchment by means of quantitative micro-XRF.

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Technical University of Berlin, 10623 Berlin, Germany.


In this study, we address the question of the provenance and origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts. A characteristic low ratio of chlorine to bromine, corresponding to that of the Dead Sea water, may serve as an indicator for local production. For this aim we developed a non-destructive procedure to determine the Cl/Br ratio in the parchment of these manuscripts. Micro-X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) measurements of a large number of parchment and leather fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls were analyzed with a routine we developed based on fundamental parameter quantification. This routine takes into account the absorption of the collagen matrix and the influence of the different sample thicknesses. To calculate the representative Cl/Br ratio for each fragment, we investigated the lateral homogeneity and determined the total mass deposition using the intensity of the inelastically scattered, characteristic tube radiation. The distribution of the Cl/Br ratios thus obtained from the μ-XRF measurements make it possible to distinguish fragments whose origin lies within the Dead Sea region from those produced in other locations.


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