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The use of alum in metallurgical recipes in the light of experimentation: The example of the falsification of silver

Florian Téreygeol 1, 2 Florence Mercier 1, 2 Eddy Foy 1, 2 Erika Ferrari 1, 2 
1 LAPA - UMR 3685 - Laboratoire Archéomatériaux et Prévision de l'Altération
NIMBE UMR 3685 - Nanosciences et Innovation pour les Matériaux, la Biomédecine et l'Energie (ex SIS2M)
2 IRAMAT-LAPA - IRAMAT - Laboratoire Archéomatériaux et Prévision de l'Altération
IRAMAT - Institut de Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux
Abstract : References to the use of alum [as a reactant] can be found in many ancient metallurgical texts while its identification on site, in correspondence to the metallurgical workshop, remains uncertain. Nevertheless, the use of an experimental approach, based on recipes described in the papyrus of Leyde and Stockholm (3rd century AD), provides a way to elucidate both the practical features and the nature of the products obtained. In order to understand the role of alum in metalworking, our study focuses on the question related to the forgery of silver by addiction of copper hammer scale. An experimental laboratory protocol has been established and it allows to follow the evolution of the products from the raw materials to the copper-alloyed silver. The materials obtained from such experimentation systematically characterized by structural and elemental analysis and the results provided a way to have a better understanding on the functionality of the recipes. A new hypothesis on the interpretation of the texts is proposed.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 20, 2022 - 6:54:28 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 3:26:34 AM

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Florian Téreygeol, Florence Mercier, Eddy Foy, Erika Ferrari. The use of alum in metallurgical recipes in the light of experimentation: The example of the falsification of silver. Artefact : techniques, histoire et sciences humaines, CNRS éditions, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2022, pp.221-242. ⟨10.4000/artefact.12290⟩. ⟨cea-03699053⟩

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