Spanish Colonial Period Bricks from Churches in Laguna, Philippines: A Preliminary Chemical Characterisation Using X-ray Diffraction, Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence and Fourier Transform Infrared


Spanish Colonial Period brick samples dating to the 19th century from the Municipalities of Liliw and Pagsanjan in Laguna, Philippines was investigated. These samples were obtained from two church structures, a church bell tower from Liliw and a church convent from Pagsanjan. Combined X-ray diffraction (XRD), energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy allowed the determination of chemical elements and minerals attributed to clay and sand, such as montmorillonite, quartz, corundum, hematite and calcite. On the basis of these compositions, the possible kilning conditions employed to fire the bricks during manufacture was also proposed. MATLAB™ programme was utilised in this study to interpret the data from XRD and FTIR to rationalise the overlapping peaks in the spectrum. Results show that both brick samples were made of clay material that is non-calcareous with low refractory. The firing was performed in an oxidising atmosphere or an open-air environment at an estimated temperature of between 650°C and 850°C. This preliminary study provides a baseline chemical characterisation data of colonial period bricks in the Philippines which will be useful for future conservation and restoration work not only locally but also within the Southeast Asian region.