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Evaluation of the condition of a Mamluk-illuminated paper manuscript at Al-Azhar Library, Egypt

Gomaa Abdel-Maksoud (Conservation Department, Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt)
Mostafa Abdel-Hamied (Conservation Department, Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt)
Ahmed A.M. Abdelhafez (Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Agriculture, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt)

Pigment & Resin Technology

ISSN: 0369-9420

Article publication date: 20 October 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2023




This paper aims to present the components' characterization and condition assessment of an important deteriorated Mamluk-illuminated paper manuscript housed in Al-Azhar Library, Egypt.


Different analytical techniques used in this study were the portable digital optical microscope, stereomicroscope, scanning electron microscope with EDX (SEM.EDX), portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), pH measurement and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR).


The results obtained by different microscopes showed that the gilding in the surface of illuminated paper sheets was performed with gold leaves. Additionally, these microscopes revealed that the illuminated paper manuscript has different aspects of deterioration such as adhered dirt, staining, some micro-cracks, cracks and detachment of some parts in some illuminated areas. The results of elemental analysis by EDX, portable XRF and XRD analysis showed that the orange red pigment is red lead (Pb3O4), blue pigment is azurite (2CuCo3.Cu (OH)2), and the gold layer is has consisted of brass alloy (Cu-Zn) with a small amount of gold element (Au). The pH measurement stated that the historical paper in the acidity level. The ATR-FTIR analysis also revealed the oxidation of cellulose. Moreover, it was found from ATR-FTIR that Arabic gum was used as a binder for the pigments.


This study presents the important results of analytical methods used for condition assessment and identification of the components of an important Mamluk-illuminated paper manuscript, where these results referred that the studied paper manuscript had different aspects of deterioration. The conservation steps either conservation treatment or preventive conservation are urgently needed in future studies.



Abdel-Maksoud, G., Abdel-Hamied, M. and Abdelhafez, A.A.M. (2023), "Evaluation of the condition of a Mamluk-illuminated paper manuscript at Al-Azhar Library, Egypt", Pigment & Resin Technology, Vol. 52 No. 1, pp. 49-59.



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