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Investigation of the deterioration degree of parchment marked with iron gall inks

Georgia Velivasaki


L'étude vise à évaluer la progression des dommages de l'encre ferro-gallique sur le parchemin, pendant un vieillissement artificiel. Des échantillons de parchemin sur peau de chèvre ont été marqués avec deux encres ferro-galliques de préparation traditionnelle, les deux contenant du sulfate de fer et de l'acide gallique; une des deux contenait en outre de la gomme. Les échantillons ont ensuite été vieillis à 80° avec un RH de 80°. Pour une meilleure évaluation des résultats, des échantillons ont été analysé par SEM-EDAX, FTIR et MHT.

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Spectroscopic evidences of transposition of amide A (to 1660 cm-1)on an aged (32 days) sample marked with MK ink and evidence (spectral subtraction) of ink oxidation and/or interaction of ink components with parchment material (peak at 1715 cm-1) are shown.

Credits: Stamatis Boyatzis

1Micro hot table measurements showed a gradual decrease of the shrinkage temperature (Ts) in parchment samples marked with ink containing Arabic gum, as accelerated ageing proceeded. Furthermore, collagen fibers from areas with ink marks presented lower shrinkage temperature than fibers from non-marked areas.


2The experimental results can be summarized in the following points:

  • The discoloration of inks after ageing is due to the oxidation of ferrous in iron gall ink ; Fe(II) →Fe(III) , which colors the ink as it forms a coordination complex with Gallic acid.

  • Encrustations of salts on the surface of the samples can be detected at samples marked with MK ink as well as the ones marked with MN ink.

  • FTIR spectroscopy showed degradation on parchment structure separately and on parchment/ink system, as accelerated ageing proceeded.

  • Hydrothermal stability of parchment was examined by MHT. Samples after 8 days of accelerated ageing contain damaged dehydrated fibres. Additionally, samples marked with inks showed lower physical strength on the fibre structure in comparison to non-marked samples.

Future research

3Further work is under way involving increased sample numbers and statistic elaboration in order to establish a trend between the obtained results and the state of parchment preservation.

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HAINES, B.M., 1999, Parchment: The physical and chemical characteristics of parchment and the materials used in its conservation, Northampton: The Leather Conservation Centre.

JANCOVICOVA, V., CEPPAN, M., HAVLINOVA, B., REHAKOVA, M., JAKUBIKOVA, Z., 2007, ‘Interactions in iron gall inks’, Chemical Papers, vol. 61, pp. 391-397. Available from:

LEE, A.,S., MAHON, P.,J.,CREAGH, D.,C., 2006, ‘Raman analysis of iron gall inks on parchment’, Vibrational Spectroscopy, vol. 41, pp.170-175. Available from:

MOZIR, A., GONZALEZ, L., KRALJ CIGIC, I., WESS, T., J., RABIN, I., HAHN O., STRLIC M., 2012, ‘A study of degradation of historic parchment using small-angle X-ray scattering, synchrotron-IR and multivariate data analysis’, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, vol.402, pp. 1559–1566. Available from:

ODLYHA, M., THEODORAKOPOYLOS, C., DE GROOT, J., BOZEC, L., HORTON, M., 2007, ‘Thermoanalytical (macro to nano-scale) techniques and non-invasive spectroscopicanalysis for damage assessment of parchment’, Improved Damage Assessement of Parchment (IDAP) : assessment, data collection and sharing of knowledge. Research Report No.18, pp.73-87.

VEST M., JACOBSEN J., LARSEN R., 2007, ‘Accelerated ageing: effect of heat and relative humidity’, Improved damage assessment of parchment (IDAP) : Assessment, data collection and sharing of knowledge, Research Report No.18, pp.67-68.

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Référence électronique

Georgia Velivasaki, « Investigation of the deterioration degree of parchment marked with iron gall inks », CeROArt [En ligne],  | 2014, mis en ligne le 08 septembre 2014, consulté le 24 juin 2017. URL :

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Georgia Velivasaki

Georgia Velivasaki is undergraduate student of the Department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art at the TEI of Athens (she finished her studies in June 2014). She has already worked as a conservator at the archeological sites of Dispilio, Ancient Messene and Dikili Tash in Greece, and at the museum of National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. Lately, Georgia Velivasaki has studied the degree of degradation that iron-gall inks cause to parchment manuscripts.

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CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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