Characterization and Provenance of Archaeological Materials Using Multi-Method Analysis

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 4286

Special Issue Editors

Department of Optoelectronic Methods and Techniques for Artwork Restoration and Conservation, National Institute of Research and Development for Optoelectronics-INOE 2000, 077125 Magurele, Romania
Interests: heritage science; X-ray fluorescence; laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy; multivariate data analysis; optical coherence tomography
Department of Optoelectronic Methods and Techniques for Artwork Restoration and Conservation, National Institute of Research and Development for Optoelectronics-INOE 2000, 077125 Magurele, Romania
Interests: laser spectroscopic techniques; solid-state lasers; colorimetry; microscopy; anoxia
Department of Optoelectronic Methods and Techniques for Artwork Restoration and Conservation, National Institute of Research and Development for Optoelectronics-INOE 2000, 077125 Magurele, Romania
Interests: heritage science; polychrome works of art; characterization and identification of painting materials using non- and micro-invasive spectroscopic techniques; elemental and molecular spectroscopy; spectral databases; data integration; data fusion; open science
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Archaeological objects allow us to look back into history. Each artefact carries important information regarding not only the object itself, its crafting technique, and the social traits of humans at a certain point in time, but also what it has been subjected to from the moment of creation until its discovery. Knowing about our past gives us the chance to create a better future. People have tried for many years to gain a better understanding of our past via the multi-method analysis of minerals present in archaeological objects. However, science is advancing rapidly; so, regarding the physico-chemical analysis of minerals related to archaeological objects, what methods should one choose? What techniques can offer a complete understanding, or is this a multi-faceted question that has no definitive answer? We hope to collate high-quality scientific papers to shed light on the current status and future perspectives of mineral analytical techniques to perform the complex and complete characterization and provenance study of archaeological materials. Both original research articles and reviews can be submitted to this Special Issue.

Dr. Luminita Ghervase
Dr. Monica Dinu
Dr. Ioana Maria Cortea
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • archaeology
  • provenance
  • dating
  • spectroscopy
  • cultural heritage
  • archaeometry
  • metal
  • ceramics
  • stones
  • sediments
  • glazes
  • glass
  • geochemical tracers
  • burial environment

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 3417 KiB  
Article
Combined Scanned Macro X-Ray Fluorescence and Reflectance Spectroscopy Mapping on Corroded Ancient Bronzes
Minerals 2024, 14(2), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14020192 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 561
Abstract
Bronze is an alloy composed primarily of copper and tin and since its discovery is widespread in the whole world. This alloy can thus be found in many archaeological sites and its study can give information about the technology of production, the trading [...] Read more.
Bronze is an alloy composed primarily of copper and tin and since its discovery is widespread in the whole world. This alloy can thus be found in many archaeological sites and its study can give information about the technology of production, the trading routes, or the warfare within a region. However, bronze artefacts can undergo severe alteration processes, and the formation of corrosion layers of different copper minerals can prevent the readability of the artefact or even destroy it, as in the case of the ‘bronze disease’. Their preservation is crucial for maintaining a connection to our cultural heritage. In this paper, we present the study of some corroded bronze artefacts found in different burying conditions. They have been analysed through a scanner system that combines two non-invasive techniques, macro XRF (MA-XRF) and visible, near infrared, short wave infrared (VIS-NIR-SWIR) reflectance, to unravel information about the metal and the patina composition, thickness, and distribution. As the corrosion of bronze depends on the burying conditions and the alloy composition, these data are of the utmost importance to understanding the alteration processes occurring in the archaeological site and to ensure the artefacts’ optimal preservation. Full article
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17 pages, 133858 KiB  
Article
Characterization, Analysis, and Investigation of the Provenance of the Stone Construction Materials of the Vera Cruz Church (Segovia, Spain)
Minerals 2024, 14(2), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14020178 - 06 Feb 2024
Viewed by 621
Abstract
As part of the restoration project of the 13th century Vera Cruz Church (Segovia, Spain), a preliminary study of the stones used in its construction—dolostones of the Montejo de la Vega Fm of Santonian age (Upper Cretaceous)—and the possible location of the quarry [...] Read more.
As part of the restoration project of the 13th century Vera Cruz Church (Segovia, Spain), a preliminary study of the stones used in its construction—dolostones of the Montejo de la Vega Fm of Santonian age (Upper Cretaceous)—and the possible location of the quarry of the provenance of these stones was carried out. For this purpose, a comparative analysis was performed between the currently active quarry of La Vera Cruz n° 88 and the historical quarry of Zamarramala. The samples were characterized using a multidisciplinary approach, combining X-ray diffraction (XRD), polarized optical microscopy (POM), and scanning electron microscopy with microanalysis (SEM-EDX). The combined mineralogical, chemical, and textural characterization provided valuable information on historical provenance. The results show a significant correlation between the dolostone samples obtained from the church and both quarries. The integral characterization confirms the suitability of the dolostones identified in the currently active quarry, Vera Cruz n° 88, for the restoration of the Vera Cruz Church, ensuring the use of appropriate materials. This study contributes to the restoration efforts of the Vera Cruz Church by providing a deeper understanding of the historical origins of the building stones. Full article
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14 pages, 7922 KiB  
Article
Spectroscopic Study of White Pigments in the Decoration of Neolithic Pottery in the Region of the Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
Minerals 2024, 14(2), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14020152 - 30 Jan 2024
Viewed by 542
Abstract
Throughout history, ceramics have been the most abundant artifacts in archaeological discoveries. Within the Neolithic period in present-day Bulgaria, skilled artisans applied additional materials to decorate their pottery, evolving in composition and application techniques such as painting or incrustation. This study is focused [...] Read more.
Throughout history, ceramics have been the most abundant artifacts in archaeological discoveries. Within the Neolithic period in present-day Bulgaria, skilled artisans applied additional materials to decorate their pottery, evolving in composition and application techniques such as painting or incrustation. This study is focused on the investigation of white pigments used in decorating Early and Late Neolithic pottery from Madzherito, Kaloyanovets, and Hadzhidimitrovo—archaeological sites located in the Thracian Valley, Central South Bulgaria, affiliated with the cultural groups of Karanovo I and IV. Thirteen ceramic sherds were investigated through archaeometric techniques, including Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy in attenuated total reflection mode (ATR-FTIR) and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). LIBS data underwent further analysis using principal component analysis (PCA). The results revealed that calcite, enriched with diverse fillers like quartz, clays, feldspars, and metal oxides, was the primary raw material for white decoration throughout the entire period. Talc emerged as an addition to calcite in the paint of two Early Neolithic sherds. The presence of hydroxyapatite and kaolinite in Late Neolithic pottery was also observed. The inclusion of supplementary ingredients in the primary formula for crafting white decorations signifies either the emergence of novel trends in manufacturing techniques or serves as evidence of vessels imported from adjacent territories. Full article
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17 pages, 32248 KiB  
Article
Material Characterization of Mayapán’s Effigy Censers’ Sherds
Minerals 2023, 13(7), 974; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13070974 - 22 Jul 2023
Viewed by 887
Abstract
Ceramic production from ancient Mesoamerican civilizations is related with cultural and technological evolution processes. Studying ritual objects also provides information on ancient traditions and allows researchers to determine the importance of certain materials employed in its manufacture. In this work, a set of [...] Read more.
Ceramic production from ancient Mesoamerican civilizations is related with cultural and technological evolution processes. Studying ritual objects also provides information on ancient traditions and allows researchers to determine the importance of certain materials employed in its manufacture. In this work, a set of 72 of Mayapán’s effigy censers’ sherds was analyzed in situ by using a combination of non-invasive, non-destructive spectroscopic and imaging techniques for material characterization; colorimetry established an initial classification of the pigments present in the objects, XRF provided elemental information, FORS allowed us to describe the molecular characteristics, and hyperspectral imaging established compositional contrasts or similitudes between large regions of the different objects. Pigments were characterized, allowing us to describe the materials used in the decorations of such ritual objects. The pottery matrix was also characterized, leading to a detailed description of the clays and mixtures of minerals employed in the construction of the effigy censers. Full article
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24 pages, 23531 KiB  
Article
Supervised Machine Learning Algorithms to Discriminate Two Similar Marble Varieties, a Case Study
Minerals 2023, 13(7), 861; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13070861 - 25 Jun 2023
Viewed by 881
Abstract
A multi-analytical approach is usually applied in provenance studies of archaeological marbles. However, for very similar marble varieties, additional techniques and approaches are required. This paper uses a case study to illustrate this with two Catalan marble districts (Gualba and Ceret) and three [...] Read more.
A multi-analytical approach is usually applied in provenance studies of archaeological marbles. However, for very similar marble varieties, additional techniques and approaches are required. This paper uses a case study to illustrate this with two Catalan marble districts (Gualba and Ceret) and three sets of archaeological marbles. The common multi-method approach is unable to discriminate between the two districts, and such distinction is only partially glimpsed using unsupervised multivariate data analyses on a transformed geochemical dataset of reference samples. In contrast, several supervised classification models have been successfully trained to discriminate between the quarries without any special data transformation. All the trained models agree to assign the three sets of archaeological samples to the Gualba quarry district. Additional outcomes of the paper are a comprehensive archaeometric characterization of the little-known marbles of Gualba and Ceret and the first archaeometrically supported evidence of the use of Gualba marble during Roman and Medieval times. Full article
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