Molecular characterisation of birch bark tar by headspace solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography–mass spectrometry: A new way for identifying archaeological glues

Abstract : To develop an analytical methodology, as non-destructive as possible, suitable for the identification of natural substances from archaeological origin, we studied the potentiality of solid-phase microextraction (SPME) for analysing birch bark tar, an adhesive commonly used during ancient times. First of all, birch bark tars were produced by a controlled heating of birch bark. The two kinds of samples obtained using different processes of fabrication, one at liquid state, the second one at solid state, were then analysed by headspace HS-SPME-GC–MS. Different conditions of sample treatment were tested (two different fibre coatings, various times and temperatures of extraction) in order to suggest optimal conditions for the analysis of birch bark tar. Both samples were shown to be rich in volatile organic components. Two main groups of constituents, namely phenolic compounds issued from lignin or tannin known to be present in bark and sesquiterpenoid hydrocarbons, secondary metabolites largely distributed in the plant kingdom, were detected for the first time in birch bark tar. HS-SPME-GC–MS appears thus to be a very efficient method for investigating the volatiles emitted by plant tars and could be further used for the study of birch bark tar samples issued from archaeological context.
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M. Regert, V. Alexandre, Nicolas Thomas, A. Lattuati-Derieux. Molecular characterisation of birch bark tar by headspace solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography–mass spectrometry: A new way for identifying archaeological glues. Journal of Chromatography A, Elsevier, 2006, 1101 (1-2), pp.245-253. ⟨10.1016/j.chroma.2005.09.070⟩. ⟨hal-01766864⟩

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