Examination of museum objects with SIFT-MS mass spectrometer

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The study demonstrates the reliability of SIFT-MS as a rapid screening method for archaeometric investigations directly in the museum, providing the unique possibility to integrate, confirm and extend archaeological research on the use and purpose of particularly archaeological vessels.


Researchers from the University of Pisa together with SRA Instruments have investigated for the first time the contents of about fifty vases and amphorae from the tomb of Kha and Merit of the Egyptian Museum of Turin dating back to about 3500 years ago.

The investigation, which allowed the identification of resins and ointments together with beeswax but also barley flour and even beer, took place without opening or affecting the finds thanks to the SIFT-MS mass spectrometer (Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometry) which made it possible to “smell” the traces of residual organic compounds. SRA Instruments provided technical support and instrumentation.


Thanks to:

The experts of the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Ilaria Degano of the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry who worked on the research together with a group of fellow professors and researchers made up of Jacopo La Nasa, Francesca Modugno, Erika Ribechini and Maria Perla Colombini, and Camilla Guerrini who dedicated her master’s thesis.

The work was published on Journal of Archaeological Science

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