Date of Award


Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name





Joan Esson, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Carrigan Hayes, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Robin Grote, Ph.D.


Western African Artifacts, Dyes and Pigments, Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, Frank Museum of Art

Subject Categories



A technical art analysis of select objects (88.04, 73.02, 70.07, and 86.01) from the Western African collection at the Frank Museum of Art at Otterbein University (Westerville, Ohio) was executed. Since little is known about the materials used in the Western African collection, the characterization of the surface may help better understand the historical aspects and origins of the objects. In order to identify pigments, binding materials, and dyes on the object’s surface a multi-pronged approach was implemented, including x-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), widefield fluorescence microscopy (WFM), liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Object 88.04 was identified to have kaolinite and hematite pigments while mask 70.07 was found to have a calcite mixture as well as ultramarine pigments within the samples taken. Artifact 86.01 was suggested to be a calcite mixture while the fabric analysis provided an unconvincing identification of brazilwood and camwood dyes. The waxy surface appearing on artifact 73.02 was suggested to be palm oil due to identification of methyl palmitate in palm oil and artifact samples. With this new information further research can be conducted in order to fully characterize the objects within the collection and uncover historical aspects of these objects.

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