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Paleoproteomics for cultural heritage conservation: biomolecular analysis of ancient Egyptian paint binders


This project aims to identify the biological species of origin, as well as molecular damage, of proteins used as binding media in ancient Egypt painted artifacts and architecture specimens dating 3000 BC - 600 AD by applying mass spectrometry-based proteomic strategies.
A wide part of the artistic production of ancient Egypt civilization is surprisingly still available to us and it is carefully preserved in Egyptian collections spread worldwide. Proteins represent a widely used category of paint binders in ancient Egypt but, at present, only few analyses have been undertaken, leaving several questions open such as: were different proteins preferred for different applications? Did they differ according to period and geographical area? How did proteins in paint formulations modify over millennia? Protein-based samples from ancient Egyptian painted objects will be analysed using state-of-the-art proteomics strategies by high-resolution mass spectrometry. A first screening of the samples will be performed at the British Museum while bottom-up, top-down and quantitative proteomic approaches will be accomplished at the Centre for GeoGenetics. The correct identification of the proteinaceous paint binder, as well as of its biochemical damage, will contribute to understand the artistic technology and to develop proper conservation treatments compatible with the original materials to preserve our cultural heritage for future generations.
The Researcher’s skill in analytical chemistry for the investigation of cultural heritage materials, as well as her network with museums and curatorial departments, will be beneficial to the host institution, especially because of the ‘TEMPERA’ European Training Networking coordinated by the main supervisor. At the same time, by receiving advanced, dedicated, research based training on ancient proteomics, her expertise will be significantly enriched, with clear benefits for her future professional career.


Net EU contribution
€ 200 194,80
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 200 194,80