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Investigation of Pigments on Archaeological Artifacts on site by Mobile Imaging Spectroscopy

  • Matthias Alfeld
Monday 13 May 2019
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden

Much of the original polychrome decoration of objects and buildings from antiquity has been lost. Knowledge on the inorganic pigments used for this decoration would allow us to get an idea of the original visual impression of an object and the economic and technological conditions of its creation.

Scanning X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) imaging and Reflectance Imaging Spectroscopy (RIS) allow to survey large surfaces. In the elemental and chemical distribution images they acquire, remainders of pigments not visible to the bare eye can be identified and highlighted.

These methods were successfully used to investigate the Frieze of the Siphnian Treasury (6th century BC, Delphi, GR), the Etruscan Tomb of the Reliefs (4th century BC, Cerveteri (IT)) and several Noble tombs from the time of Ramesses II in the Necropolis of Theben (13th century BC, Egypt). In all cases new and also surprising insights could be gained that complemented conventional archaeological investigations.

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