Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst; Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien; Schillerplatz 3; 1010 Wien
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Analytical Investigation of Ancient Gold Objects of the Artemision Temple in Ephesus/Turkey

Today‘s relicts of the ancient Artemision.

Within two measurement campaigns in 2006 and 2007 in the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul and in the Ephesus Museum of Selçuk/Turkey more than 80 ancient gold objects (e.g. small statuettes, brooches and coins) from the 8th – 6th century BC, were analysed. Two self-built portable XRF instruments were used in order to gain information on the chemical composition and homogeneity of the artefacts discovered during excavations in the sanctuary of Artemis at Ephesus since the 1960s. These results and complementary studies on the manufacturing techniques of the objects will contribute to our knowledge of metalworking, trade, as well as the transfer of ideas and technologies at Ephesus and in Western Asia in the Archaic period.

Ancient gold object excavated in the Artemision (Ephesos/Turkey), dated to the 8th – 6th century BC.In most cases the objects can be characterized as highly homogeneous alloys, mainly consisting of gold (Au), silver (Ag) and copper (Cu). A high compositional variation of Au and Ag between different objects could be determined: the Au-content varies between about 48.7% and 99.9%, the Ag-concentration between <dl (detection limit) and 50.9%, while copper was generally present at a comparably low level between <dl and 4.4%.

These results demonstrate the range of gold alloys represented within the collection and allowed for a classification of the objects on the basis of their Au-content into 4 groups, which may be further divided into a number of subgroups. Furthermore, distinguishing between natural and artificial gold alloys (including the identification of “refined” gold) and obtaining information regarding the provenance of the raw materials is possible. A further measurement campaign in Selçuk/Turkey is planned for summer 2012.



M. Melcher, M. Schreiner, B. Bühler, A. M. Pülz, U. Muss:
Investigation of ancient gold objects from Artemision at Ephesus using portable µ-XRF.
ArcheoSciences, revue d'archéométrie 33 (2009) 169-175.