Re.S.Artes
Le regard de la Science sur les Arts et le patrimoine culturel

Materials

Gold

authentication and characterization

Authentication and evaluation of the antiquity using microanalysis, trace-elements measurements (PIXE, ICP-MS) and quantification of Helium

The scientific expertise of gold objects using scanning electron microscopy allows to detect possible modern surface treatments.
In parallel, measuring the trace-elements concentration (less than 0.1%) with PIXE or ICP-MS indicates if the metal comes from ancient or modern gold metallurgy. 

Finally, determining the residual concentration of helium in the metal (generated by internal radioactivity) provides information about the antiquity of its last cast. Note however that the uncertainty associated with this measurement makes sometimes the results difficult to interpret.

Metal characterization

The scientific analysis of gold objects participates, in particular, to the reconstitution of the manufacturing processes and to provenance researches of raw materials.

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