A Glance to the Fragmenta Membranea Manuscript Collection Through Ftir and Radiocarbon Analyses

T. M. Kasso, M. Kytokari, M. Oinonen, K. Mizohata, J. Tahkokallio, T. Heikkila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The Fragmenta membranea manuscript fragment collection at the National Library of Finland has proved challenging to date using only traditional paleography. Therefore, radiocarbon dates can contribute to the understanding of these fragments by offering a parallel natural scientific timeline for the parchment the manuscripts are written on. In this study, we apply our previously developed method for radiocarbon dating medieval manuscripts made of parchment. In total 35 datings were made from 14 separate assemblages of manuscripts, being the first systematic wide-scale application of radiocarbon dating to a collection of medieval manuscripts in order to improve their chronological proxy. Additionally, due to the fragmentary and sometimes poor condition of the manuscript fragments of Fragmenta membranea analyzed in this study, we used Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to evaluate the quality of the collagen and the presence of contaminants in the fragments affecting the radiocarbon dates. We report out radiocarbon dating results and FTIR screenings for each sample and for each manuscript assemblage, and discuss the applicability of our method in further studies of applying radiocarbon dating on objects of cultural historical interest and value. The results indicate an essential role of high-quality samples and multiple measurements to interpret the radiocarbon dating results.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)155-171
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • 114 Physical sciences
  • Ftir
  • Collagen
  • Contamination
  • Parchment
  • Pre-screening
  • Radiocarbon dating

Cite this