Stratigraphic Examination of a Korean Lacquered Wooden Coffin Sample by Pyrolysis/GC/MS
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A lacquered wooden coffin decorated with gilded Sanskrit letters excavated in the Nongso ancient tomb site was constructed around the fourteenth century in Korea. Pyrolysis/gas chromatography/mass spectrometry was employed to identify the materials of the lacquered surface by analyzing the individual layers. The components of lacquer were detected in all four layers of wood substrate, black, brown, and gilded layers, indicating the coating material was Asian lacquer. The wood seems to be a kind of pine tree from the observation that pine resin-related components were detected in much of the wood substrate and decreasing in the upward direction. Markers of drying oil like azelaic acid and palmitic acid existed in large quantities in the black, brown, and gilded layers, indicating that drying oil was intentionally added to give a luster. In addition, compared with dried Asian lacquer from Korea, the lacquer used in the coffin was determined to be of the same type.
KeywordsPyrolysis/GC/MS Lacquered coffin Lacquer layer analysis Composition
This study was supported by the conservation guest scholar program run by Getty Conservation Institute. It was also supported by National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. The lacquered coffin samples for analysis were given from Naju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. We are deeply grateful to all of them.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Author Jongseo Park has received research grants from Getty Conservation Institute. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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