Hassan Ebeid (2011-2014)

Hassan Ebeid’s principal research interests lie in the field of conservation, composition and manufacturing techniques of historical materials. He has a particular expertise and interest in both organic and inorganic materials. He is currently investigating the materials and techniques used in the colouring and preventive protection of mediaeval manuscripts.
His future research plans and broad research interests are to build on the foundations of the PhD to further focus on the topics of the technology of ancient materials, Islamic and oriental manuscripts, rare books, bookbinding, leather, natural dyes and paper conservation.

The research investigates the materials and processes used in mediaeval Islamic paper-making and colouring with the aim of identifying the purpose for which certain materials were used to colour the endpapers of books. Organic and inorganic colouring materials available at the time are investigated as well as traditional methods of protecting paper from bio-deterioration.
An interdisciplinary methodology combines a literature review and interpretative analysis, the interrogation of primary historic sources, the technical analysis of artefacts and empirical scientific study. These methods include the translation of unpublished Islamic treatises; the use of mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC–ESI–MS) to identify dyes in three historic samples; and testing the antibacterial properties of turmeric, weld and saffron against three strains of bacteria that have been identified in an Egyptian museum.
Results from the literature, including the analysis of original manuscripts, suggest fifteen historical recipes used dyeing paper during the Islamic-medieval period in Egypt. The recipes prove that processing took place after the formation of sheets of paper, where paper sheets were dipped directly into a dye bath. This job was done by scribes, not papermakers. A new brand of Egyptian paper is discovered which has four classes and a new centre for papermaking is also located in the Nile delta. The probability that these three dyes have useful biocidal properties is supported by a laboratory microbial study. Weld (Reseda lateola L.) has been identified in three historic paper samples from the simultaneous detection of Luteolin and Apiginin using HPLC–ESI–MS.

Image: Dyed endpapers pasted at the front and back covers of a manuscript book, Mamluk period (1250-1517 AD / 647-922 AH), Faculty of Medicine Museum, Cairo University, Egypt.