ARTAX, X-ray fluorescence system

Analysis of Historical Ink

From the 16th to the 18th century manuscripts were written in iron gall ink. Because of the use of naturally occurring raw materials, the composition of the ink has variable amounts of major and minor cosnstituents and contaminations. The analysis of these components consequently allows a definite characterization and chronological ordering of inks.

This application example illustrates such a task using the µ-XRF spectrometer ARTAX. Its non-destructive analysis method has proven to be crucial when examining priceless originals or evidences in criminal investigations.

As a result of analyses characteristic XRF-spectra “fingerprints“ of various iron gall inks could be obtained. This permits characterization and chronological classification of various inks used by an artist. In turn, this facilitates dating works of art – which was previously not possible.

Download the full lab report XRF 421 (PDF)