Multispectroscopic studies for the identification of archaeological frankincense excavated in the underground palace of Bao'en Temple, Nanjing: near infrared, midinfrared, and Raman spectroscopies


Lei Zhou, Key Laboratory of Nonferrous Metals Chemistry and Resources Utilization, Gansu Province, and College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China. E-mail:

Qinglin Ma, Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, Beijing 100029, China. E-mail:


Five resinous incense materials excavated from the underground palace of Bao'en Temple, Nanjing, were studied by a multianalytical approach of near infrared, midinfrared, and Fourier transform Raman spectroscopies. By comparing the multispectroscopic features of five specimens, these incense materials were identified to the same substance. Subsequent analysis and comparison of the ancient incense materials and three modern reference specimens were carried out, and the results indicated that the excavated incense materials were frankincense, with its major component of triterpenoids. This work performs, for the first time, a comprehensive spectroscopic study for the Chinese excavated incense materials, demonstrating that a combined use of near infrared, midinfrared, and Fourier transform Raman spectroscopies is an efficient technique to identify an excavated incense. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.