A combination of gas chromatographic (GC) and mass spectrometric (MS) techniques, including direct exposure-MS (DE-MS), high-temperature GC-MS (HTGC-MS) and GC-MS of neutral and acid fractions, was employed to study the composition and recognise origin of the organic materials used to manufacture balm residues surviving in a series of glass unguentaria recovered from excavations of a Roman villa (Villa B) in the ancient town of Oplontis (Naples, Italy). DE-MS provided comprehensive ‘fingerprint’ information on the solvent soluble components of the contents of the unguentaria, while GC-MS analyses provided detailed molecular compositions, highlighting the presence of a wide range of compound classes including mid- and long-chain fatty acids, long-chain hydroxy-acids, n-alkanols, alkandiols, n-alkanes, long-chain monoesters, phytosterols and diterpenoid acids. Characteristic biomarkers and their distributions indicate the presence of beeswax, Pinaceae resin and another wax, as the main organic constituents of all of the preparations examined. In particular, the occurrence of phytosterols and long-chain monoesters, in which the acyl moiety was not exclusively palmitic acid, suggested the presence of a second waxy-lipid constituent of plant origin. The results are consistent with beeswax being used in the preparation of the cosmetics preserved in the unguentaria, while the other lipids are most likely the residue of some as yet unidentified plant extract(s), possibly deriving from the cuticular waxes of flowers and/or leaves. The composition of the extracts are consistent with the ancient practices of maceration and/or “enfleurage”, in which lipid based materials, such as beeswax, animal fat or vegetables oils, were used to extract aromatic and fragrant substances from resin, flowers, spices and scented wood, in order to produce unguents and balms.

Chromatographic and Mass Spectrometric Investigations of Organic Residues from Roman Glass Unguentaria

RIBECHINI, ERIKA;MODUGNO, FRANCESCA;COLOMBINI, MARIA PERLA;
2008-01-01

Abstract

A combination of gas chromatographic (GC) and mass spectrometric (MS) techniques, including direct exposure-MS (DE-MS), high-temperature GC-MS (HTGC-MS) and GC-MS of neutral and acid fractions, was employed to study the composition and recognise origin of the organic materials used to manufacture balm residues surviving in a series of glass unguentaria recovered from excavations of a Roman villa (Villa B) in the ancient town of Oplontis (Naples, Italy). DE-MS provided comprehensive ‘fingerprint’ information on the solvent soluble components of the contents of the unguentaria, while GC-MS analyses provided detailed molecular compositions, highlighting the presence of a wide range of compound classes including mid- and long-chain fatty acids, long-chain hydroxy-acids, n-alkanols, alkandiols, n-alkanes, long-chain monoesters, phytosterols and diterpenoid acids. Characteristic biomarkers and their distributions indicate the presence of beeswax, Pinaceae resin and another wax, as the main organic constituents of all of the preparations examined. In particular, the occurrence of phytosterols and long-chain monoesters, in which the acyl moiety was not exclusively palmitic acid, suggested the presence of a second waxy-lipid constituent of plant origin. The results are consistent with beeswax being used in the preparation of the cosmetics preserved in the unguentaria, while the other lipids are most likely the residue of some as yet unidentified plant extract(s), possibly deriving from the cuticular waxes of flowers and/or leaves. The composition of the extracts are consistent with the ancient practices of maceration and/or “enfleurage”, in which lipid based materials, such as beeswax, animal fat or vegetables oils, were used to extract aromatic and fragrant substances from resin, flowers, spices and scented wood, in order to produce unguents and balms.
2008
Ribechini, Erika; Modugno, Francesca; Colombini, MARIA PERLA; R. P., Evershed
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/119321
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