Beasts to Craft: BioCodicology as a new approach to the study of parchment manuscripts (B2C)(2018-2023)

ERC Advanced Grant Project Lead Prof. Dr. Matthew Collins University York
The intention of Beasts to Craft (B2C) is to document the biological and craft records in parchment in order to reveal the entangled histories of animal improvement and parchment production in Europe from 500-1900 AD. B2C will lay the foundations for a new approach to the the study of parchment manuscripts —biocodicology— which draws evidence from the overlooked first stages in production, the raising of livestock and the preparation of the skins.
  • Parchment is an extraordinary but overlooked high resolution zooarchaeological record and a molecular archive. Livestock genetics is revealing breed diversity and markers of character traits such as fleece quality. B2C will exploit this new-found knowledge, using progressively older dated archival (sheep) parchments to study the history of improvement 1300 - 1900. Visual examination of the skins will search for direct evidence of disease and fleece quality.
  • Craft skills can be read from parchment and, when combined with chemical data and comparison with modern analogues, will produce the first European wide record of the craft from 500-1900. The size and scope of this the parchment archive means it is one of the largest and most highly resolved records of a specialist medieval craft. We will explore how these skills develop and when and where regional patterns appear and decline. These two remarkable records requires a large interdisciplinary team. However biocodicology draws from and informs upon a wide and diverse spectrum of existing scholarship in conservation, the arts and sciences. A third strand of the project will
  • furnish manuscript scholars with some of the information available to the scribe at time of production
  • inform and shape attitudes to parchment conservation
  • provide high resolution biological data on animal management, movement and health and
  • explore methods to link datasets and promote data reuse. We are participating in this ERC Advanced Grant of Prof. Collins; it is a great honor for us.

    The Origin of the Glagolitic-Old Church Slavonic Manuscripts - An Interdisciplinary Investigation Accompanied by Editions (Sinai III)(2017-2020)

    WFW Project Lead University Vienna
    Sinai III is a multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary pilot-project in which philologists, computer vision scientists, chemists and physicists, microbiologists and conservators will work together to illuminate the history of some of the oldest Slavic manuscripts and palimpsests, prepare editions of hitherto unpublished texts and thereby improve the methods and techniques for the analysis, conservation and preservation of written cultural heritage. Several complex results are to be expected:
    1. Insights in the material and cultural history of the early Slavs.
    2. Editions of highly important texts of the 10th-11th c.
    3. Further developments of computer vision-, spectroscopic and DNA-methods of cultural heritage investigation.
    4. Insights in the make-up of Glagolitic manuscripts and the preparation of Glagolitic palimpsests.
    Partners are Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Technical University, Vienna, University of Life Sciences, Vienna.

    Nanotechnological Restoration of Cultural Assets (NanoKult)(2016-2017)

    PRIZE Project Lead University Graz
    A considerable part of our written and graphic cultural heritage from the period between 1840 and 1960 encompasses various documents (books, writings, scriptures, contracts, etc.) and innumerable pieces of art which have one feature in common: they are printed or painted on paper. Notably, paper of the quality produced during that time gets destroyed/degraded due to the generation of acid originating from the degradation process of the paper of this time; this degradation is caused by the production technique used which applied alum as paper auxiliary. As a consequence, the concerned documents literally decay, causing an enormous threat for libraries and archives all over the world. This problem becomes specifically evident when one takes into account that a myriad of these documents and artwork are unique copies with inestimable value for society and science. Given that not a single currently applied technique for paper mass deacidification delivers satisfying results in practice and following the conclusions of a survey of professional conservator-restorers about the urgent need to implement efficient mass deacidification techniques to preserve cultural heritage on paper, rapid action is needed in this area. In this context, a new prototype process will be developed by an interdisciplinary team from University of Graz and University of Continuing Education Krems. This highly innovative mass deacidification process involves development of alkaline nanoparticles as powerful deacidification components; these components will be functionalized with sophisticated cellulose derivatives which display excellent compatibility with paper and even strengthen paper´s rigidity and firmness. For technological simplification, this process, based on functionalized alkaline core-shell nanoparticles, will be operated in only one stage. The major technological breakthrough of this new approach lies in the possibility to treat not only staples of single sheets of paper, but also whole staples of complete books. This way, the books get additionally furnished with a deposit of coated nanoparticles in their interior; this deposit acts as an alkaline reserve which neutralizes newly generated acid in situ. In addition, it has been demonstrated that this unprecedented method benefits the mechanical properties of the treated paper by improving its rigidity by 60% to 70%. Furthermore, the process purifies the materials internally and, due to the antimicrobial properties of the functionalized nanoparticles, prevents their spoilage by cellulose-degrading bacteria or fungi, another well-known factor strongly contributing to paper disintegration. Finally, our pre-experiments indicate that no deterioration of printing ink or typography have to be expected. In the framework of the project, we will proceed by scaling up these fascinating features of our novel approach for mass deacidification to the prototype level.


    Sustainable Hygiene Concept as a mandatory conservation aspect for people, paintings on paper and drawings and the buildings of Museum Affandi (2018)
    Asea Uninet with Technical University Vienna
    The interrelation of restoration and preservation of the art and architecture of the Museum Affandi in Yogyakarta has been topic of two preliminary research projects within the frame of the ASEA Uninet. After the documentation of the buildings and the art work on paper the concepts of short and long-term measures have been outlined and are under development. Still some particularities have not been studied in detail so far. One of those is the threat by pests which can harm both the art as well as the architecture the Museum Affandi. Several biological hazards were identified: rodents, termites, moulds. Whereas there are a number of measures used to reduce or even prevent the threats most of them are also dangerous for humans. Brief information on traditional less harmful measures could be gathered with the frame of the preliminary projects at the Museum Affandi, but there are no comprehensive systematic surveys about traditional Indonesian available so far. Still, there is a growing literature on traditional plant disinfection in Asia and South America, many of those based on traditional knowledge. (Before they are gone expanded: Capturing traditional textile presentation knowledge in Southeast Asia and Latin America, Julia M Brennan presented at ICOM CC Copenhagen 2017; Mould on Books and Graphic Arts - A Report on Latest Research Results, Boudalis etc al ed. Berger Horn, 2016; Traditional Preventive Conservation of Paper in India, Patil Ashish and Singh Neelam in ERC Newsletter 1/2015 pp. 2-7, etc.) Even if the problem is the same in many places approaches differ and are very much depending on local environment, local plants and the species of the pests. Whereas those studies provide approaches to the interdisciplinary problems that have to be addressed for the special circumstances of a museum a number of questions are not answered in a way that they could be implemented for the particular needs of the Museum Affandi: details on herbal extracts, particular hygiene measures or construction techniques, choice of material to store and display works of art or other precious items and protect them against moulds and rodents, particular choice of place for durable buildings, etc. In this way there are a number of preservation measures used at the Museum Affandi which could be harmful for visitors and in particular for the staff (as they are spending a number of hours a day in the buildings). Still the methods are used with a focus on the preservation of the artwork. For the integrated approach that will be used for the upcoming restoration works these questions will be of interest, especially regarding the concepts for the long term monitoring and the facility management for both art and architecture of the Museum Affandi. The project should
    1. investigate written and oral tradition on disinfection for humans and their valuable items in Indonesia
    2. collect information on what is used in modern museums, libraries and archives in Indonesia
    3. identify possible best practice models for Indonesia
    4. test if applications used for artwork can be used for architecture and vice versa
    5. identify whether any of these methods could be employed for the benefit of European museums and heritage items. With the proposed project eco-friendly and sustainable solutions for the control biological hazards in tropical conditions will be outlined. To outline long-term preservation measures in this field for the Museum Affandi, will not only safeguard Affandi’s art and architecture, but will provide benefit for, especially the Indonesian, cultural heritage


      The Influence of Daylight and natural airflow in the architecture of the museum Affandi, Yogyakarta (2018)
      Asea Uninet with Technical University Vienna
      Risk assessment and sustainable protection of cultural Heritage in Changing environment


      Traditional Architecture and contemporary Art – The Estate of Kartika Affandi(2017)
      Asea Uninet with Technical University Vienna
      Kartika Affandi is one of the most important contemporary artists in Indonesia. Keeping up the legacy of her father Affandi she inherited not only his talent but also an interest in architecture. Whereas Affandi designed the Museum in Yogyakarta as a place to host his art and this of his family in a very particular and unique architecture, Kartika created a space for her work of art hosted in a lavish garden inside of typical traditional buildings of central Java that she collected over the last years. The collection of buildings and art is a unique place where Kartika not only created a place for art but also a place where art is created in inviting interested women to workshops to create art on their own and also displays sculptures and paintings of artists all over Indonesia. The traditional buildings translocated to the garden are pieces of art on their own and an important part of the architectural heritage of Indonesia. In the way they are displayed and used the premises are a kind of open air museum providing an insight into different styles of the so called joglo type of buildings. In terms of building history they are of exceptional interest as they represent a building typology that is declining in the way as it is represented in Kartika’s place. Combined with the art it is hosting today it provides a particular interesting place to research the history of the buildings and the how they can be a suitable place for hosting artwork on canvas and paper. For the architectural part of the research a comprehensive recording of the building with an in-depth building archaeological research would be needed to unveil the origin of the buildings and how much they have been altered when re-erected at the place they are right now. For the works of art exhibited there, a survey of exhibition conditions is of substantial importance. Not only the physical conditions, but also the reception of the works of art is of great interest. To exhibit these particular works of art a particular reception of them was developed earlier and also the exhibition in the concrete environment fosters a distinct sort of reception. To understand the reception fully is one of the prerequisites of any conservation work, as presentation in a certain context is one of the fundamental tasks of conservation. Therefore the exhibition conditions in the joglo collection of Kartika should be studied in comprehensive way. As a side work so far found notes about the architecture and the works of art by Kartika and her family members are on paper and should be part of the conservation project, as they show severe damage such as ink corrosion, a fatal decay of a particular ink (iron gall ink), a work that will be accomplished by the cooperation partner at the Donau University Krems. The joglo collection of Kartika reflects a raising awareness about tradition and its manifestations and also the possibility to move traditional buildings and put them into a new context, which is a trend that is raising within Indonesia. You can find traditional houses of central Java (limasan) in Bali used as bungalows in touristic enterprises for providing the “traditional experience of Indonesia”. In this way the interdisciplinary research in Kartika’s estate can provide a new approach to research the interrelation between art and architecture but also between the tangible and intangible cultural heritage.


      Affandi´s Art and Architecture as Part of the Tangible and Intangible Heritage of Indonesia(2017)
      Asea Uninet with Technical University Vienna
      To preserve Affandi´s oeuvre, his oil paintings, his graphic art, his statues, his architectural artistic work and his ideas, a comprehensive approach must be chosen. The reason for such comprehensive approach is  the manifold of material used by the artist,  the tropical climate conditions, which make material decay fast and  the social and political circumstances in the past and today.   This approach includes the tangible and intangible aspects of the works of art and the environment in which they were presented and are used and kept. The recent project will include 
      1. The memory cult concerning Affandi in his family and outside
      2. The history of the restoration of Affandi´s art
      3. The history of the museum Affandi
      Ad 1 The memory of Affandi goes far beyond a private commemoration of a grandfather, and great grandfather. It is a vital omnipresence of his ideas and actions in the family and in the museum Affandi and beyond.  This is even more remarkable as other Indonesian artists of the same time faced different faith. Widayat, as Affandi, had built a museum for his works of art, but his children sold the paintings after his death and the museum was closed. Dullah had finished his museum and before he could open it he fell sick and past away, no one continued the idea of his museum. Rusli had even managed to select a superb place for his museum, but again his children did not continue his ideas and by selling his paintings took contradicting actions to their father´s ideas.  Affandi had his museum built during his life time, to be precise the first gallery. After his death his daughter did not only maintain what was there, but continued the development both of the buildings and the management and even took care of the preservation of the works of art of Affandi in a professional way. The intangible quality of this enlarged artistic atmosphere and awareness of responsibility to maintain an inherited treasure of special sort contributes to the preservation of the works of art themselves. How this multi layer aspects actually are shaped and how they work is one of the questions which will be answered in the project. Another topic is how these intangible moments influence the conservation work today. However during recent project work also various sorts of old conservation material was found on the works of art themselves. Soon the need to bring together more information about this practical interventions to maintain the works of art by Affandi became clear. There are patches, tapes and reinforcements, which partly might have been applied by Affandi himself or authorized by him and there is other material, which most probably was applied later. To shed a light on how Affandi himself struggled to keep his works of art in good condition in this hot humid climate and who else tried to help him maintain the works of art will further contribute to understand the phenomenon “preservation of the work of Affandi”. Furthermore it will be a good basis for any conservator´s decision making today, because to understand the individual history of a painting etc. as well as the immediate and larger environment is a precondition for any practical conservation. Finally the museum and its buildings is in the terms of art one of the works by Affandi, while at the same time, as an item it is a sort of protection layer around the other works of art by Affandi. Thirdly it is a sign to the world by its physical appearance. To describe and understand this triple nature of the museum is the third topic, however strongly interwoven to the other two aspects of the application. The project aims to compile those aspects in a comprehensive publication to provide an insight into the interrelation between the different facets of the tangible with intangible heritage of Affandi and its legacy as an important part of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. Again the cooperation between the UGM, the Donau Universität Krems and the TU Wien are important to connect the views from outside to those from inside Indonesia and to cover all aspects of this new approach. The aim is to use already compiled material from the preceding project and enlarge it with interviews and additional data focussing on the objective of the new project to publish the history of Affandi from a new perspective that can be a part of the celebration year 2020.


      Asea Uninet with Technical University Vienna
      Development of an integrated Restoration Concept for the Art and Architecture in the Affandi Museum Yogyakarta (2016)
      Affandi is one of the most important contemporary Indonesian artists and his work is part of the outstanding cultural heritage of Indonesia. His work consists of paintings, drawings and sculptures, as well as the museum building which houses his works. The museum was planned and designed by the artist himself and is located in Yogyakarta downtown. The design of the building was inspired by the traditional vernacular architecture of Indonesia and can be considered as a piece of art itself. Construction work started in the 1960s and by now the buildings show signs of decay and need urgent restoration. The current state of the buildings already led to some damage of the artwork which are an important part of Indonesia’s contemporary cultural heritage. Inspired by the idea of Mr. Affandi’s daughter Kartika Affandi-Köberl, two universities in Austria propose to start a joint project with the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta to develop a sustainable restoration and maintenance project for the Affandi museum. The first step of the project consist of three parts:
      1. The object will be documented with a comprehensive and detailed building archaeological survey. The integrated approach for the building survey that has been used at the TU Wien, Department History of Architecture and Building Archaeology, for years, can be applied for the building to document its structure, building materials and to map the damage. In cooperation with UGM this work can be done within the framework of a joint workshop of staff from Austria and staff and students from UGM
      2. In parallel to this work, Patricia Engel from the European Research Centre for Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration will (1) make a detailed survey of the drawings, (2) develop a conservation strategy for all paper based art by Affandi and (3) perform some of the conservation measures defined in the strategy.
      3. An introduction in the restoration techniques will be given as part of a workshop. Furthermore, the interior climate of the building will be analysed and the most suitable condition for a sustainable maintenance of the paintings suggested.
      4. A representative of the Department of Building Physics and Building Ecology of the TU Wien will analyse the building in cooperation with the team working on the building survey and the expert of restoration. Based on the detailed building archaeological survey mentioned above and on-site investigations the damage suffered by the building will be documented an analysed in detail. According to the requirements mapped by the conservation and restoration experts, indoor climatic conditions will be defined. Subsequently, a strategy for the restoration and optimization of the buildings will be developed, to provide the most suitable indoor climatic conditions for the artefacts.
      The main goal of the project is a better understanding of the material and techniques of both the drawings by Affandi and the museum building by Affandi as a basis for a detailed restoration project of the art and architecture of the Affandi Museum. The expected results, in detail, are the following:
      1. A detailed building survey of the Affandi Museum including
        • a catalogue of plans and sections,
        • a catalogue of rooms (Raumbuch) with details of the materials, and mapping of the damage.
      2. A strategy for restoring and conserving both drawings and paintings (watercolours).
      3. A documentation, restoration and maintenance strategy for the museum building. The challenge is to treat the building as a work of art in itself, while optimizing the indoor climatic conditions to protect the paintings from decay.
      A very important output of this work will be the exchange of knowledge between the universities in Austria and Indonesia. This will be achieved by joined research and teaching activities of Indonesian and Austrian experts in all involved fields.

      Stop Fungi

      Innovationsscheck Nr. 5324706 Is an innovative development for an SME. In this case the question focused on mould attack in archives.


      Book deacidification, mechanical strength enhancement and prevention of microbiological attack with supercritical CO2 or volatile organic solvents in combination with multifunctional hydrophobically modified nanoparticles and functional silanes.
      FFG – Österreichische Forschungsförderungs-Gesellschaft, Coin 5 ffg Projekt 3079125
      The DEACIMIC project is aimed at preservation of archive materials, dealing with their acidity, deterioration of their mechanical properties and microbial degradation using the latest developments in cellulose chemistry and nanotechnology. Photo (from left): Christian Steindl (Berger), Peter Leerkamp (omni Access), Gerald Megens (Omni Access), Volker Ribitsch (Universität Graz), Eduard Paschinger (Entfeuchter), Martin Sova (Natex), Patricia Engel (Danube University Krems), Tamilselvan Mohan (Universität Graz), Franz Lang (Natex), Christine Grond (Danube University Krems), Gerhard Brandner (Entfeuchter), Christian Hanus (Danube University Krems).     The DEACIMIC project is aimed at preservation of archive materials, dealing with their acidity, deterioration of their mechanical properties and microbial degradation using the latest developments in cellulose chemistry and nanotechnology. It will help develop a new paper deacidification process combining the best currently available concepts with knowledge in supercritical fluid / volatile organics solvent reactions and nanotechnology. The process will be transferred from the laboratory to the pilot scale, including construction of a process device and process optimization. The knowledge gained in Deacmic will overcome the currently existing gap in the Austrian book preservation field and substantially strengthen the position of the Austrian SMEs involved in the project on the European market. 
      • Institut für Chemie, Universität Graz
      • Natex Prozesstechnologie GesmbH,
      • Ferdinand Berger & Söhne GesmbH
      • OmniAccess
      • Danube University Krems, European Research Centre for Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration is the Leadpartner.
      We warmly thank the following institutions for their support in the research work:
      • Stift Zwettl
      • Stift Kremsmünster
      • Stift Seitenstetten
      • Stift Vorau
      • Archiv der Barmherzigen Schwestern Wien Gumpendorf
      • Stift St. Florian

      MEN & BOOKS - for a risk free use of the European written cultural heritage

      EU Projekt, 522331-CU-1-2012-1-AT-Culture-Vol121
      Book and paper conservators and archivists all over Europe have a big common unsolved problem: mould. Mould destroys our cultural heritage. Especially books and charters in archives, being unique by nature and thus extremely valuable for our understanding of Europe´s past are very much at risk to be lost due to microorganisms: firstly because there are fungi that particularly attack and destroy paper and parchment; secondly, because archival material is stored en masse and is comparatively rarely moved – therefore infestation often stays undiscovered for a long time until it is so vast it cannot be overseen. Mouldy material is a serious health hazard for men, both archivists and readers, as most of the spores cause dangerous illnesses. Today many charters and books are still disinfected with toxic measures. This project seeks to find a solution to exterminate the mould with a substance and method that are harmless for men and books. This is beneficial for all European users of archival material.
      The Archives of the Protestant Parish of the Holy Trinity in Swidnica houses about 12,000 manuscripts, prints, bound books and loose archival material. This archival material is complete without any losses from 1652 until today. These highly valuable sources for the history of Protestantism were chosen as a representative material. The material is certainly of interest for all European citizens who are interested in their history. From the material point the various writing materials, leathers, parchment and paper in this archive are found in almost any historic collection in Europe, promising significant results useful for any other institution in Europe and around the world.
      This project cannot be realized in full without a substantial interdisciplinary, international dialogue. By combining art and culture, history and science and health topics, the project is clearly more than its parts. Please find a link to the official project website here.

      Dr Patricia Engel, European Research Centre for Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration; Shirin Jacoby, Student; DI Isabel Peißl, Umweltbundesamt; Prof. Dr. Piotr Oszczanowski, University Wroc?aw; Sonja Stankowski, Swidnica (translator); Prof. Dr. Zdenek R. Nespor, University Prague; Bozena Pytel, Swidnica; Dr. Stephan Aderhold, Swidnica/Berlin; Prof. Dr. Katja Sterflinger-Gleixner, BOKU Vienna, (ANTRAGSTELLERIN); Dr. Anna Ziemlewska, Polnish Academy of Sciences, Vienna; Pastor Waldemar Pytel, Swidnica; Dr. Rene Eckhart, TU Graz; Caroline Maximoff, ICARUS; Dr. Elisabeth Umweltbundesamt Vienna.

      Armenian Paper

      Analyses of Armenian inks and papers
      Patricia Engel, Helmgard Holle, Manfred Schreiner, Wilfried Vetter, Emanuel Wenger
      The research dealt with paper production in ancient Armenia. The wish to find measures against ink corrosion in Armenian manuscripts led to a closer survey of Armenian inks that was published earlier. Armenian paper, which is the second parameter in ink corrosion, is the theme of a publication to published soon. Visual observations, FT IR and XRF spectroscopy, fibre analyses, watermark survey and recreating paper surfaces after historical recipes were used in combination to understand what types of Armenian paper might support or hinder ink corrosion in Armenian manuscripts. The work was performed via a cooperation of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the European Research Centre for Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration. Erasmus students from University of Zadar and the Matenadaran Yerevan were also involved.

      Prof. Mag. Helmgard Holle demonstrates the procedure of fibre analysis for two ERASMUS students of the European Research Centre for Book and Paper Conservation-Restoration