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Silk is an iconic material in many cultures. Silk archaeology and conservation is affected by silk production technology as well as subsequent environmental effects such as humidity, temperature, UV radiation and ageing. The complex interactions and various effects on silk materials affect the practical use of silk, for example, in the conservation of ancient manuscripts. This study examines the various influences of silk provenance and processing, adhesive coatings and chemical treatments as well as natural and artificial ageing of the silk material. We use infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and dynamic mechanical thermal analysis to investigate the glass transition behaviours in a range of archaeological and control silk samples. This allows us to establish structural differences in century-old museum silks and predict the effects of silk ageing and degradation.

Original publication




Journal article


J R Soc Interface

Publication Date





UV irradiation, ageing, amorphous structure, biopolymer, mechanical properties, thermal properties