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Chemical Attribution of Corroded Coins Using X-ray Fluorescence and Lead Isotope Ratios: A Case Study from First Century Judaea

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Abstract:

Nondestructive analyses using a quadrupole inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometer (ICP-QMS) and polarizing, multi-target, energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (PEDXRF) with three-dimensional optics were conducted on Judean coins from the first century BCE and CE to determine the efficacy and limits of these methods for numismatic analyses of coins with a patina. Comparisons with destructive analyses and literature databases demonstrate their value even when corrosion is present. An outstanding question about the dating of Herod Agrippa I or II “canopy” coins that has significance to Biblical historians is used as a case study. Multiple lines of evidence attribute this coin to Agrippa I, with a date of 41 to 45 CE, produced using Faynan (Feinan), Jordan, and Cyprus ores.

Keywords: ARCHAEOLOGY; BRONZE; CORROSION; ICP-MS; INDUCTIVELY COUPLED PLASMA–MASS SPECTROMETRY; LEAD ISOTOPE ANALYSIS; NUMISMATICS; POLARIZED X-RAY FLUORESCENCE; XRF

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1366/000370210791114211

Affiliations: 1: Mount Saint Mary's University, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727 2: P.O. Box 805, Nyack, New York 10960 3: National Institute of Science and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 4: Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903; Email: nbower@ColoradoCollege.edu

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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