Chemical analysis of ancient residues of pharmaceutical or cosmetic preparations such as balms or ointment s is made problematic by the high complexity of these mixtures, composed of organic and inorganic materials. Consequently, a multi-analytical approach and special caution in the interpretation of the results are necessary. In order to contribute to the improvement of analytical strategies for the characterization of complex residues and to reconstruct ancient medical practices, a replica of a pharm aceutical formulat ion of the seventeenth century was prepared in the laboratory according to a historically documented recipe. In a round robin exercise, a portion of the preparation was analysed as a blind sample by 11 laboratories using various analytical techniques. These included spectroscopic, chromatographic and mass spectro-metric methods. None of the laboratories was able to completely reconstruct the complex formulation, but each of them gave partial positive results. The round robin exercise has demonstrated that the application of a multi-analyt ical approach can permit a complete and reliable reconstruction of the composition. Finally, on the basis of the results, an analytical protocol for the study of residues of ancient medical and pharmaceutical preparations has been outlined.

A round robin exercise in archaeometry: analysis of a blind sample reproducing a seventeenth century pharmaceutical ointment

POJANA, Giulio;MARRAS, SUSANNA
2011

Abstract

Chemical analysis of ancient residues of pharmaceutical or cosmetic preparations such as balms or ointment s is made problematic by the high complexity of these mixtures, composed of organic and inorganic materials. Consequently, a multi-analytical approach and special caution in the interpretation of the results are necessary. In order to contribute to the improvement of analytical strategies for the characterization of complex residues and to reconstruct ancient medical practices, a replica of a pharm aceutical formulat ion of the seventeenth century was prepared in the laboratory according to a historically documented recipe. In a round robin exercise, a portion of the preparation was analysed as a blind sample by 11 laboratories using various analytical techniques. These included spectroscopic, chromatographic and mass spectro-metric methods. None of the laboratories was able to completely reconstruct the complex formulation, but each of them gave partial positive results. The round robin exercise has demonstrated that the application of a multi-analyt ical approach can permit a complete and reliable reconstruction of the composition. Finally, on the basis of the results, an analytical protocol for the study of residues of ancient medical and pharmaceutical preparations has been outlined.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/32114
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