PhD Proposals



Title: Preservation of the North Sea Trade Archive, University of Bergen Library: development of a conservation method to reduce fungal biodeterioration and stabilize iron-gall ink

Area: Paper Conservation; Biodeterioration


Description: The North Sea trade archive from the University of Bergen Library (16th - 20th centuries) is included in UNESCO´s Memory of the World Register due to its cultural, historical and economic significance. Composed of ca. 90 shelf meters of manuscripts mostly written in iron-gall ink, this archive was kept for centuries in a cold, humid environment and many of the documents are now badly affected by mould. To preserve these manuscripts, and make them available for digitalization and for use by researchers, these documents must be disinfected in a way that prevents a recurrence of mould growth if climate conditions become variable. The present PhD proposal aims to find an efficient multipurpose methodology to treat this archive, which would have a long-lasting antifungal effect and also a chemical stabilization effect on iron gall ink.

Supervisors: Sílvia O. Sequeira and Jasna Malešič


Conservation Science


Title: Bridging Science & Art for the study and preservation of medieval Islamic manuscripts
Medieval manuscripts


Description: The Islamic manuscript heritage still lacks a thorough methodological approach for their study. Although having received growing awareness the recent decade, the understanding of the colour materials of these lavishing decorated artworks is yet to be fully explored. This doctoral project will contribute to filling this knowledge gap, within a world-renown team that developed a successful methodology for the characterisation of medieval Western manuscripts. This project will have 3 main objectives: 1) in-depth research on the colorants used through the study of written sources; 2) development of a multi-analytical approach for the characterization of the paint materials with special emphasis on organic colorants and binding media; 3) analysis of selected Islamic manuscripts providing a full characterization of all paint colours and a complete assessment of their conservation condition. This doctoral project will pave way for a better understanding and preservation of the Islamic written heritage.


SupervisorPaula Nabais


Title: From the fundamental studies of color molecules in art to the discovery of sustainable applications with renewable natural resources: around the blue of Chrozophora tinctoria, also known as folium in the Middle Ages

Area: Historical dyes


Description: This project is focused on the (re)discovery of colours from the past as inspiration for new environmentally friendly applications. It is both aimed at safeguarding a precious heritage as to study the resilience mechanisms of the blue of Chrozophora tinctoria (CT), a plant colour source from medieval manuscripts. Inserted in LAQV-REQUIMTE research groups, it will be a Caparica & Porto collaboration. As a starting point, historical sources that describe the production of folium will be researched. These recipes will be tested and optimized and the most successful will be characterized using a multi-analytical approach. The identification, isolation and characterization of natural-coloured compounds present in fruits, leaves and stems will be carried out in the LAQV-FCUP group. Within the LAQV-NOVA group, the physical chemistry of these molecules will be studied to understand its stability mechanisms. New applications of these extracts in the textile and food industry will also be investigated.

SupervisorNatércia Teixeira


Title: Towards innovative and green conservation strategies for iron-gall inks in medieval manuscripts

Area: Medieval manuscripts; Iron gall inks conservation


Description: Degradation of manuscripts catalysed by iron-gall inks in heritage collections poses a severe threat to the world's written heritage. Currently, conservation strategies are based on an oversimplistic structure for iron-gall inks, proven incorrect with the contribution of members of the Cultural Heritage research line within the Associated Laboratory for Green Chemistry. This PhD project aims to address this challenge by combining documentary research with state of the art analytical techniques and conservation methodologies. This will lead to a better understanding of these precious writing inks' materials and techniques while assuring a sustainable preservation of our cultural heritage. Historically accurate reconstructions of iron-gall writing inks will be prepared and thoroughly characterised. Selected references will be artificially aged and used to study the causes of colour in iron gall inks and their alteration over time, as well as to test innovative and green treatments that will respect the environment and human health.


SupervisorVanessa Otero