Polar and non-polar organic binder characterization in Pompeian wall paintings: Comparison to a simulated painting mimicking an "a secco" technique

Gaetano Corso, Monica Gelzo, Carmen Sanges, Angela Chambery, Antimo Di Maro, Valeria Severino, Antonio Dello Russo, Ciro Piccioli, Paolo Arcari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The use of Fourier transform infrared spectromicroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) allowed us to characterize the composition of polar and non-polar binders present in sporadic wall paint fragments taken from Pompeii's archaeological excavation. The analyses of the polar and non-polar binder components extracted from paint powder layer showed the presence of amino acids, sugars, and fatty acids but the absence of proteinaceous material. These results are consistent with a water tempera painting mixture composed of pigments, flours, gums, and oils and are in agreement with those obtained from a simulated wall paint sample made for mimicking an ancient "a secco" technique. Notably, for the first time, we report the capability to discriminate by tandem MS the presence of free amino acids in the paint layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3011-3016
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012



  • Cultural heritage
  • FT-IR spectromicroscopy
  • GC-MS
  • Pompeii's wall painting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

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