Testing the effectiveness of protocols for removal of common conservation treatments for radiocarbon dating

Brock, F., Dee, M., Hughes, A., Snoeck, C., Staff, R. and Ramsey, C. B. (2018) Testing the effectiveness of protocols for removal of common conservation treatments for radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon, 60(1), pp. 35-50. (doi:10.1017/RDC.2017.68)

[img]
Preview
Text
142551.pdf - Accepted Version

1MB

Abstract

To achieve a reliable radiocarbon (14C) date for an object, any contamination that may be of a different age must be removed prior to dating. Samples that have been conserved with treatments such as adhesives, varnishes or consolidants can pose a particular challenge to 14C dating. At the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU), common examples of such substances encountered include shellac, the acrylic polymers Paraloid B-67 and B-72, and vinyl acetate-derived polymers (e.g. PVA). Here, a non-carbon-containing absorbent substrate called Chromosorb® was deliberately contaminated with a range of varieties or brands of these conservation treatments, as well as two cellulose nitrate lacquers. A selection of chemical pretreatments was tested for their efficiency at removing them. While the varieties of shellac and Paraloid tested were completely removed with some treatments (water/methanol and acetone/methanol/chloroform sequential washes, respectively), no method was found that was capable of completely removing any of the vinyl acetate-derived materials or the cellulose nitrate lacquers. While Chromosorb is not an exact analog of archaeological wood or bone, for example, this study suggests that it may be possible to remove aged shellac and Paraloid from archaeological specimens with standard organic solvent-acid-base-acid pretreatments, but it may be significantly more difficult to remove vinyl acetate-derived polymers and cellulose nitrate lacquers sufficiently to provide reliable 14C dates. The four categories of conservation treatment studied demonstrate characteristic FTIR spectra, while highlighting subtle chemical and molecular differences between different varieties of shellac, Paraloid and cellulose nitrate lacquers, and significant differences between the vinyl acetate derivatives.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Staff, Dr Richard
Authors: Brock, F., Dee, M., Hughes, A., Snoeck, C., Staff, R., and Ramsey, C. B.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Radiocarbon
Publisher:University of Arizona
ISSN:0033-8222
ISSN (Online):1945-5755
Published Online:09 August 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona
First Published:First published in Radiocarbon 60(1):35-50
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record