Scientists are reporting development of the first fast and reliable scientific method to determine the age and authenticity of priceless silk tapestries and other treasures — such as Civil War General Phillip Sheridan’s famous red-and-white battle flag — in museums and other collections around the world.
Although almost all the amino acids making up proteins can be either left- or right-handed, in practice they are all left-handed, because life on Earth has a preference for left-handed amino acids.
So while they are alive, organisms keep the switching between the two configurations in check, but this obviously stops as soon as they die.
Strand for strand no fabric can compare to the luxurious feel, luminosity and sheen of pure silk.
Since millennia, the Chinese have been unraveling the cocoons of the silk worm (Bombyx mori) and weaving the fibers into sumptuous garments, hangings, carpets, tapestries and even artworks of painted silk.
Now, for the first time, scientists at the Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute have developed a fast and reliable method to date silk.
This new technique, which is based on capillary electrophoresis mass spectrometry, has great potential to improve the authentication and dating of the priceless silk artifacts held in museum and other collections around the world.
Archaeologists had used the D/L approach to date ancient teeth and bone, but Moini’s team simplified it and adapted it for silk.
The researchers demonstrated the test, called “CE-MS,” on Sheridan’s flag, a Fontainebleu tapestry, ancient silks from China and other old samples from masterpieces in museums around the world.
Using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (CE-MS), researchers at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Conservation Institute in Maryland, US, have developed a new, non-destructive method for dating silk textiles.