Project presentation

Project's title: AUTHENTICATION AND PROVENANCE STUDIES ON ANCIENT GOLD, SILVER AND BRONZE OBJECTS FROM ROMANIAN MUSEUMS USING ATOMIC AND NUCLEAR METHODS - ROMARCHAEOMET

Project's keywords: archaeometallurgy, gold-silver-bronze museum objects, elemental composition, X-Ray Fluorescence, micro-PIXE

Project's summary:

The application of the nuclear techniques for the study of art and archaeological objects gives the historian or the archaeologist quantitative information that can help the understanding of the way of life during the ancient times. In the world of museums, this knowledge is necessary to test the authenticity and provenance of artifacts and paintings proposed for acquisition and to prepare and carry out the necessary restorations. All these objectives are common to the very large community of people working in the field of archaeometry, i.e. the "application of science to art and archaeology". In the case of investigating metallic artifacts, the domain is called "archaeometallurgy". For all the above described research activities it is important to emphasize that the multidisciplinary community of action is essential. Due to the European and even international characteristics of art and archaeology, scientists should unite their efforts in networks of excellence, putting together physicists, chemists, archaeologists and conservators from different laboratories and museums. This is necessary in the current economic climate, being obvious that research groups from museums cannot develop new analytical methods or techniques on their own. Recently, another tendency appeared in archaeometry: the involvement of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Following this trend, the last years witnessed the apparition of new tools for technology-enhanced learning (e.g. e-manuals) and digital cultural resources and assets - e.g. interdisciplinary specialized websites for professionals, students and museums visitors which present their exhibits and research activities in a very accessible way. The present project will target:

  • To consolidate the Romanian archaeometallurgy network, involving the participation of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Engineering "Horia Hulubei", Bucharest (IFIN-HH); National Museum of Romania's History, Bucharest (MNIR); Faculty of History from Bucharest University (FI-UB), Romanian Academy Archaeology Institute "Vasile Pârvan", Bucharest (IA-AR), National Institute of Research on Conservation and Restoration, Bucharest (INCCR), network having strong connections at European level (EU COST actions, EU-ARTECH, FP7 TARI);
  • To elaborate, using XRF, SR-XRF and micro-PIXE techniques, a complex study concerning the composition of Romanian museums ancient gold objects and relating this information with provenance (Carpathian gold sources, workshops and technologies) and circulation aspects (commercial, military problems) with a special case, the one of the Dacian gold bracelets;
  • To elaborate, using XRF and PIXE techniques, a study concerning the identification of modern and contemporary forgeries for ancient and medieval gold and silver coins in relation to technological (gold and silver sources, gold and silver fakes, plated coins, etc) and historical - commercial aspects, special case - the presumed Dacian "koson" gold coins;
  • To elaborate, using XRF and PIXE techniques, a study concerning the composition of prehistoric and Dacian silver jewelry in relation to technological (silver sources, silvering fakes, re-melting of Greek-Roman coins etc) and historical - commercial aspects;
  • To elaborate, using XRF and PIXE techniques, a study concerning the composition of museums ancient (prehistoric to Roman period) bronze and lead objects in relation with their provenance (copper and tin sources, technologies, workshops) and circulation aspects (commercial, military problems);
  • To elaborate an e-manual with an educational purpose; the e-manual will present the archaeometrical potential of the XRF, SR-XRF, PIXE and micro-PIXE techniques for authentication (forgeries and adulterations identification) and provenance of gold and silver museum objects and will be illustrated with selected information from the above mentioned studies; the e-manual will be realized on CD and as a specialized interactive website;
  • To organize a dedicated to archaeometallurgy M.Sc. level course at the Faculty of History.

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