A non-destructive and non-invasive method for quantitative characterization of parchment deterioration, based on spectral measurements, is proposed. Deterioration due to both natural aging (ancient parchments) and artificial aging (achieved by means of controlled UV irradiation and temperature treatment) was investigated. The effect of aging on parchment native fluorescence was correlated with its deterioration condition. Aging causes fluorescence intensity drop, spectral shift of the main peak, and an overall change in the fluorescence spectral features. Digital color imaging analysis based on visible reflectance from the parchment surface was also applied, and the correspondent color components (RGB) were successively correlated with the state of parchment deterioration/aging. The fluorescence and color imaging data were validated by analysis of historical parchments, aged between 50 and 2000 years and covering a large variety of states of deterioration. The samples were independently assessed by traditional microscopy methods. We conclude that the proposed optical method qualifies well as a non-destructive tool for rapid assessment of the stage of parchment deterioration.
- Digital imaging
- Optical methods