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Non-invasive wood identification of historical musical bows

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We identified the wood of the sticks of eight bows in the historical collection of musical instruments in the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence. Wood identification was carried out non-invasively (i.e., without sampling wood from the original objects), because the removal of samples from fine musical instruments will affect their aesthetic integrity and/or functional quality. Identification attempts using reflected light microscopy of wood surfaces, gave only partial results due to the poor quality of the surfaces and the particular geometry of the sticks that does not have any transverse surface. Application of Synchrotron light X-ray microtomography (µCT) in phase-contrast mode to the whole sticks allowed us to obtain stacks of transverse-sectional images that, processed as virtual volumes, revealed several anatomical features. With µCT it was possible to identify three bows as Brosimum guianense (Moraceae), one bow as Caesalpinia echinata (Caesalpiniaceae), and four bows as Manilkara sp. (Sapotaceae).

Affiliations: 1: Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali (GESAAF) ; 2: Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali (GESAAF) ; 3: Royal College of Music ; 4: Sincrotrone Trieste SCpA


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