Heritage Wood pp 123-141 | Cite as

A Polychrome Wooden Interior from Damascus: A Multi-method Approach for the Identification of Manufacturing Techniques, Materials and Art Historical Background

  • Petronella Kovács Mravik
  • Éva Galambos
  • Zsuzsanna Márton
  • Ivett Kisapáti
  • Julia Schultz
  • Attila Lajos Tóth
  • István Sajó
  • Dániel Károly
Part of the Cultural Heritage Science book series (CUHESC)


The polychrome wooden interior from Damascus (1802–1803 CE) was purchased by Budapest’s Museum of Applied Arts in 1885. The wooden panelling is ornamented in the ‘ajami technique using gesso relief with painted, metal-gilded and glazed surfaces in various colours and patterns. Based on ongoing conservation work, this paper presents the room’s history and findings concerning the materials and manufacturing techniques used to make it. It shows that red lead, vermillion, smalt, indigo, lead white, verdigris, and different arsenic sulphides were used as pigments. Presumably, aloe was used in the orange, verdigris in the green glaze and cochineal in the red lake. Collagen, ovalbumin and gums were identified in the paint as binders. Although the appearance of the originally brilliant and matte surfaces cannot be recovered, after restoration the interior will still be a highlight of MAA’s planned Islamic Museum.


‘ajami Arsenic sulphides Collagen ‘Damascus room’ ELISA Gum Ovalbumin Smalt 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petronella Kovács Mravik
    • 1
  • Éva Galambos
    • 1
  • Zsuzsanna Márton
    • 2
  • Ivett Kisapáti
    • 1
  • Julia Schultz
    • 3
  • Attila Lajos Tóth
    • 4
  • István Sajó
    • 5
  • Dániel Károly
    • 6
  1. 1.Conservation DepartmentHungarian University of Fine ArtsBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Laser SpectroscopyUniversity of PécsPécsHungary
  3. 3.Laboratory for Archaeometry, State Academy for Art and DesignStuttgartGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Technical Physics and Materials ScienceHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Szentágothai Research CentreUniversity of PécsPécsHungary
  6. 6.Faculty of Science and TechnologyNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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