Materia medica samples

During the first part of this year we will collect samples from some of the substances preserved in our collection (the so-called materia medica) for chemical analyses. The simple substances will be sent to Institutul de Cercetare și Instrumentare Analitică in Cluj-Napoca, while the complex pharmaceutical preparations, especially the 8th-century ones, will be researched by the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry of the University in Pisa. Part of this department, a team led by Prof. Maria Perla Colombinih as specialized in such research through a national project entitled Colors and balms in Antiquity: from the chemical study to the knowledge of technologies in cosmetics, paintings and medicine (2007) that involved analytical studies of pharmaceutical preparations from historical collections (17th-19th centuries). The most important advantage of this team’s experience is its expertise in performing and interpreting the results of such chromatographic and mass spectrometric analyses. The team led by Prof. Maria Perla Colombini has created a database of biomolecular markers through the analysis of reference materials, replicas of old formulations, and artificial ageing of both reference materials and replicas. Chromatography is a technique for the separation of a mixture into its components, while mass spectometry allows for the measurement of the relative molecular mass of chemical compounds and the chemical identity or structure of molecules.