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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2018 Oct 1;57(40):13257-13260. doi: 10.1002/anie.201806520. Epub 2018 Sep 3.

Evolved Gas Analysis-Mass Spectrometry to Identify the Earliest Organic Binder in Aegean Style Wall Paintings.

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The Conservation of Material Culture Heritage Program, Department of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, 3498838, Israel.
Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale, Università di Pisa, Via Giuseppe Moruzzi 13, 56124, Pisa, Italy.
Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, Università di Napoli Federico II, Complesso Universitario Monte S. Angelo, 80126, Napoli, Italy.
Laboratory for Coastal Archaeology and Underwater Survey, Department of Maritime Civilizations and the Leon Recanati Institute of Maritime Studies, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, 3498838, Israel.
Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, George Washington University, 335 Phillips Hall, 801 22nd St. NW, Washington, D.C., USA.
Istituto di Fotonica e Nanotecnologie-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, Milano, Italy.


An organic binder was identified in the painted fragments from the Canaanite palace of Tel Kabri, Israel. Recently dated to the late 18th century B.C.E. by 14 C, Tel Kabri is the most ancient of the Eastern Mediterranean sites in which Aegean style paintings have been found. The application of pigments was suspected to be using an organic binding medium, particularly for the Egyptian Blue pigment. Samples of blue paint were examined using evolved gas analysis-mass spectrometry (EGA-MS) in order to overcome the analytical challenges imposed by highly degraded aged proteinaceous materials. Egg was identified as the binder based on the presence of hexadecanonitrile and octadecanonitrile, confirming the use of a secco painting technique. Lysozyme C from Gallus gallus was detected by proteomics analysis, confirming the presence of egg. To our knowledge, this is the earliest use of egg as a binder in Aegean style wall paintings.


Aegean style paintings; Bronze Age; evolved gas analysis; mass spectrometry; organic binders


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