Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemical analyses uncover secrets of an ancient amphora

21.01.2010
A team of chemists from the University of Valencia (UV) has confirmed that the substance used to hermetically seal an amphora found among remains at Lixus, in Morocco, was pine resin. The scientists also studied the metallic fragments inside the 2,000-year-old vessel, which could be fragments of material used for iron-working.

In 2005, a group of archaeologists from the UV discovered a sealed amphora among the remains at Lixus, an ancient settlement founded by the Phoenicians near Larache, in Morocco. Since then, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry at this university have been carrying out various studies into it components.

The latest study, published recently in the journal Analytical Letters, focuses on the resinous material that sealed the vessel. There are remains of a circular rope-effect decoration around the mouth of the amphora, and on which some fingerprints of the craftsman who moulded it can still be seen. It would probably have been sealed with a lid of cork or wood, of which nothing remains, possibly including a ceramic operculum, such as those found nearby.

"We have studied the substance that was used to seal the container using three different techniques, and we compared it with pine resin from today", José Vicente Gimeno, one of the authors of the study and a senior professor at the UV, tells SINC.

The results confirm that the small sample analysed, which is 2,000 years old, contains therpenic organic compounds (primaric, isoprimaric and dehydroabietic acids), allowing this to be classified as resin from a tree from the Pinus genus.

The researchers have identified some substances that indicate the age of resins, such as such as 7-oxo-DHA acid, although this kind of compound was not abundant in the sample due to the amphora's good state of preservation. In addition, Gimeno says that the archaeological resin of the amphora found was hard and blackish with yellow spots, unlike present-day resin, which is more malleable and orangey in colour, similar to the fresh sap of the tree.

Italic amphora in the Straits of Gibraltar

"The jar was found in an area that must have been the amphora store of a house from the period between 50 BCE and 10 CE", Carmen Aranegui, coordinator of the excavations at Lixus and also a senior professor at the UV, tells SINC.

The archaeologist, who has been working at the site for the past 15 years with the Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine of Rabat, says the amphora is Italic, probably from the region of Campania. It is currently being housed in the archaeological warehouse at Larache. These jars were used as containers for wine or salted products, but after serving this purpose they could be re-used as watertight storage containers. The amphora found contains metallic fragments, and the scientists have analysed these too.

According to the experts, it is likely that this vessel was undergoing a second use, protecting pieces of iron from corrosion, so that they could later be used in the iron-forging process in a local foundry at the time.

Not far from this amphora, another has been found at Lixus bearing the mark in Latin 'A.MISE', which is the name of the person who made the jar, and has also been found on another similar one found in Cadiz, Spain. "This was a period when there was great contact between these two cities on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar", points out Aranegui.

References:

J. Peris-Vicente, F. M. Valle-Algarra, M. A. Ferrer-Eres, J. V. Gimeno-Adelantado, L. Osete-Cortina, M. T. Doménech-Carbó, R. Mateo-Castro y M. D. Soriano-Piñol. "Analytical Study of a Resinous Material Used as Sealing in Ancient Pottery Found in an Archaeological Site by Thermally Assisted Hydrolysis Methylation–Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry, Vibrational Spectroscopy and Light Microscopy". Analytical Letters 42 (16): 2637�, 2009.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Shallow soils promote savannas in South America

20.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

How Obesity Promotes Breast Cancer

20.10.2017 | Life Sciences

How the smallest bacterial pathogens outwit host immune defences by stealth mechanisms

20.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>