ESR Spectroscopy as a Tool for Identifying Joining Fragments of Antique Marbles: The Example of a Pulpit by Donatello and Michelozzo

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ESR spectroscopy is one of the physicochemical techniques used to characterize archaeological white marbles and obtain information about their quarries of provenance. This is done by measuring selected spectral features of the Mn2+ impurity ubiquitously present in marbles and developing a statistical classification rule from the variable vectors measured for a significant number of samples of known provenance (the quarry database). Now we show that the overall variability exhibited by the same spectroscopic features decreases rapidly with the linear dimensions of the sampled block and can be used to distinguish fragments belonging to the same piece of stone from those simply originating from the same quarry. Application of the method to the seven marble panels of the Donatello pulpit in Prato (Tuscany) shows that they have all been cut from the same single block and their different degradation must be ascribed to differential weathering and to the different conservation treatments undergone in the past. The limits and possible drawbacks of the method are also discussed.

Keywords: ESR; fragments assembly; marbles; provenance; variance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Istituto di Chimica dei Materiali 2: Istituto di Chimica dei Materiali, Istituto di Metodologie Avanzate, CNR, Monterotondo Staz., Rome, 00016, Italy

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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