Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 383, Issue 4, pp 713–720

Ancient biodeterioration: an FT–Raman spectroscopic study of mammoth and elephant ivory

  • Howell G. M. Edwards
  • Susana E. Jorge Villar
  • Nik F. Nik Hassan
  • Nlin Arya
  • Sonia O'Connor
  • Donna M. Charlton
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00216-005-0011-z

Cite this article as:
Edwards, H.G.M., Jorge Villar, S.E., Nik Hassan, N.F. et al. Anal Bioanal Chem (2005) 383: 713. doi:10.1007/s00216-005-0011-z

Abstract

Raman spectra of mammoth ivory specimens have been recorded using near-infrared excitation, and comparisons made with modern Asian and African elephant ivories. Whereas the most ancient mammoth ivory (60–65 ky) showed no evidence for an organic collagen component, more recent samples of mammoth ivory indicated that some preservation had occurred, although with biodeterioration of the protein structure exhibited by the amide I and III bands in the 1200–1700 cm−1 region of the Raman spectrum. The consequent difficulties encountered when applying chemometrics methods to ancient ivory analysis (which are successful for modern specimens) are noted. In the most ancient mammoth ivory specimens, which are extensively fragmented, evidence of mineralization is seen, with the production of gypsum, calcite and limonite; Raman microscopic analysis of crystalline material inside the fissures of the mammoth ivory shows the presence of gypsum as well as cyanobacterial colonisation. The application of Raman spectroscopy to the nondestructive analysis of archaeological materials in order to gain information of relevance to their preservation or restoration is highlighted.

Keywords

ElephantIvoryMammothBiodeteriorationRaman spectroscopy

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howell G. M. Edwards
    • 1
  • Susana E. Jorge Villar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nik F. Nik Hassan
    • 1
  • Nlin Arya
    • 3
  • Sonia O'Connor
    • 4
  • Donna M. Charlton
    • 4
  1. 1.Chemical and Forensic Sciences, The School of PharmacyUniversity of BradfordBradfordUK
  2. 2.Area de Geodinamica Interna, Facultad de Humanidades y EducacionUniversidad de BurgosBurgosSpain
  3. 3.Department of Veterinary ScienceMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Department of Archaeological SciencesUniversity of BradfordBradfordUK