Conservation of Archaeological Bones: Assessment of Innovative Phosphate Consolidants in Comparison with Paraloid B72.

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Díaz-Cortés, Andrea 
Boi, Marco 
López-Polín, Lucia 

Aqueous solutions of diammonium hydrogen phosphate (DAP) have been recently proposed for consolidation of archeological bones, as an alternative to traditional products. Here, we investigated several routes to improve the performance of the DAP-based treatment, namely increasing the DAP concentration, adding calcium ions and adding ethanol to the DAP solution. Archaeological bones dated to about 1-0.8 million years ago were used for the tests. After preliminary screening by FTIR microscopy and FEG-SEM among different formulations, confirming the formation of new hydroxyapatite phases, the most promising formulation was selected, namely a 3 M DAP solution. The strengthening ability of this formulation was systematically compared to that of the most widely used commercial consolidant, namely Paraloid B72. The performance of the two treatments was evaluated in terms of Knoop and Vickers microhardness, resistance to scratch and resistance to material loss by peeling off. The results of the study show that the DAP treatment was able to improve the bone surface properties and also the resistance to material loss by peeling off, which is more dependent on in-depth consolidation. Paraloid B72 led to the formation of a layer of acrylic resin on the bone surface, which influenced the mechanical tests. Nonetheless, Paraloid B72 was able to penetrate in depth and substantially decrease the material loss by peeling off, even more effectively than DAP. The results of this study indicate that the potential of the DAP treatment for bone consolidation is confirmed.

ammonium phosphate, hydroxyapatite, microhardness, scotch tape test, scratch test
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Nanomaterials (Basel)
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Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (FPU17-05506)