Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


25 January 2011

Lead pigments and related tools at Akrotiri, Thera, Greece. Provenance and application techniques

S. Sotiropoulou, V. Perdikatsis, Ch. Apostolaki, A.G. Karydas, A. Devetzi & K. Birtacha Journal of Archaeological Science 37.8 (August 2010): 1830-1840.


This paper refers to an investigation of finds that are associated with the raw materials and tools for the preparation or use of lead pigments at Akrotiri on Thera, Greece, during the Early, Middle and Late Cycladic Bronze Age (c. 3000–1600 BC). For the detection and the preliminary characterisation of remains of pigments that were found on stone tools, the in situ application of X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy proved to be invaluable. In order to identify the chemical composition of the pigments and to investigate their provenance from a geological perspective, quantitative X-Ray Diffraction analysis was conducted. A thorough visual macro and microscopic examination of the morphology of the materials permitted the determination of physical features (colour, homogeneity, grain size) as indicators of their nature or degree of processing. Based on the results of these analyses, the traces of lead oxides that were detected on the stone tools are associated with specific collections of litharge items discovered at the settlement of Akrotiri, and probably provide evidence of their earliest use in preparing pigments.


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