Skip to main content
Passa alla visualizzazione normale.


Degradation study of XVIII century graffiti on the walls of Chiaramonte Palace (Palermo, Italy)

  • Authors: Alberghina, M; Barraco, R; Brai, M; Casaletto, MP; Ingo, GM; Marrale, M; Policarpo, D; Schillaci, T; Tranchina, L
  • Publication year: 2010
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Key words: Characterisation; Conservation treatment; Crystallisation; Degradation study; Ionic chromatography; Physical characterisation; Relative humidities; Soluble salts; Sulphates; Systematic investigations; Wall matrix; Wall paintings; X ray fluorescence
  • OA Link:


A systematic investigation of the original materials and the degradation phenomena induced by soluble salts on the wall matrix and on the graffiti of the Inquisition jails of Chiaramonte Palace in Palermo (Italy) was carried out. Built in the XIV century, Chiaramonte Palace was used as Inquisition court during the XV–XVI centuries. The ancient graffiti, recently discovered, represent a unique historical witness of the prisoners that lived during that terrible period. In order to study the nature, the amount and the distribution of the salts in the masonry, stone materials sampled at different depth from the wall matrix and saline efflorescences were analysed. Different physical techniques were used, such as X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Xray Fluorescence, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, X-ray Diffraction and Ionic Chromatography. Results of the chemical and physical characterisation showed that the main cause of the degradation of graffiti and wall paintings was the presence of soluble salts, such as nitrates, chlorides and sulphates. Traces of oxalates, coming from a previous conservation treatment, were also found. The results obtained by the stratigraphical characterisation of soluble salts in the wall matrix can be used to recommend a procedure based on air humidification at high relative humidity values in order to avoid salt crystallisation and to prevent the crumbling process of the graffiti.