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  • 1 INAH National Coordination to Restore the Cultural Inheritance Ex-Convento de Churubusco s/n Mexico City 04120 Mexico
  • 2 UNAM,CU Faculty of Chemistry Building D Mexico City 04510 Mexico
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Abstract  

Erosion caused by external factors such as wind, rain, sunlight and temperature changes is considerable in raw materials used to build pre-hispanic monuments. However, there does exist an internal destruction factor even stronger: the humidity coming from the soil, which goes up by capillarity, depositing soluble salts on the walls surface. Therefore, one way to find some figure related to the specific capillarity or porosity shown by each raw material, is to obtain small prism-shaped pieces cut out from the large debris fallen down spontaneously from ancient walls due to internal humidity. Once these small samples are placed in contact with a 22Na labeled solution during a given time, at the same geometrical conditions, dried overnight, conditioned either in test tubes or wrapped into polyethylene and detected in a well type 3″×3″ scintillation detector, the counts accumulated per time and weight units are a measure of the relative porosity shown by each material. In order to pull down this porosity, the samples are impregnated with a gelatin solution (50 g/l) at 60–80 °C plus food preservatives such as potassium sorbate (2.5%) and sodium benzoate (2.5%). When gelatin begins to be formed 3 hours later and the samples look humid and brilliant, they are impregnated with formaldehyde solution (38%), and their absorption rate is dramatically reduced overnight (75–100%), which can be proven when samples are tested by making use of the 22Na labeled solution. This technique has been applied at real scale in some pre-hispanic monuments. Ancient raw materials seems to be much more compact and well preserved during one limited period of time (10 to 13 months). Treatment is unnoticeable and reversible, and it may be applied periodically.