1630 plague bacteria still around

Nov 19, 2020 | Discoveries, Highlights, Publications

The papers presented at Florence Heritech, a scientific conference on restoration and diagnostics of cultural heritage, have been published in the IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering journal.

A great opportunity for those who missed the event, to still browse through them.

Art-Test  contributed with a work that paves the way for the scientific testing not only of artworks, but also of the diagnostic images that are used in the attribution process (See publication, and  video).

Of the many contributions presented, we highlight the work of Pier Giorgio RIGHETTI – honorary professor of the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta”, of the Politecnico di Milano: “What Sherlock Sorely missed: The EVA Technology for Cultural Heritage Exploration, which presents the results of a new investigative method. It is a functionalized film that can be used to capture all materials present on a surface without damaging it in any way.

With this new non invasive diagnostic method, iconic items were analised: Bulgakov’s manuscript of Master and Margarita, where traces of morphine have been found, and the shirt worn by Anton Chekhov at the time of his death, where tuberculosis bacteria were found.

But more spectacularly than that, the surviving documents of the plague of 1630, preserved in the historical archive of Milan, were also analyzed. And even centuries later, Yersinia pestis bacteria were still detected.

Another example presented is George Orwell‘s letter discovered in the Russian state archive, on which, although it was typewritten, the bacteria of the tuberculosis he contracted weeks before in Barcelona, were still present.

A fascinating studio that will surely lead to more exciting surprises!

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