Proteomics on the Silk Road
Since his retirement in 2009, Prof. Emeritus Richard Laursen, a protein chemist for most of his career, has focused on using modern chemical instrumentation to analyze textiles, paint, and other art and archaeological objects. Utilizing LC-MS, he has become a world-renowned expert in the analysis of dyes from natural sources in historical textiles, including those associated with the legendary Silk Road. As such he was invited to participate in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the China National Silk Museum (CNSM), the largest such museum in the world, in Hangzhou, China (November 29 – December 2, 2012).
The event marked the establishment of the first academic Committee of the Research Base for Textile Conservation of the CNSM. Three members of the Committee are from outside of China: Richard Laursen; Susan Whitfield, Director of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library, London; and Marie-Louise Nosch, Director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research and Professor of Ancient History, University of Copenhagen. Named for a period of three years (2013-2015), Committee members Laursen and Whitfield entered into co
llaborative agreements with Zhao Feng, Director of the CNSM.
On the last day Richard Laursen presented a talk at the commemorative conference, “Researches on and conservation of textiles from the Silk Road.” His talk was on “Natural Dyes in Textiles from the Silk Road.”
The following day, Prof. Laursen met with Liang Songping, Professor of Biology at Hunan Normal University and a former Laursen group postdoc, and with Zhao Feng, and members of the Conservation Science Department of the CNSM to discuss using proteomics for distinguishing between different species of silk in archaeological specimens.