Implications of new mineral phases in the isotopic composition of Roman lime mortars at the Kom el-Dikka archaeological site in Egypt

R. Fort, D. Ergenç, N. Aly, M. Alvarez de Buergo, S. Hemeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Over time, the carbonated components of lime-based mortars dissolve and recrystallise, inducing calcite cementation in the resulting micro- cracks and pores, favouring self-healing capacity. In such types of mortars, the binder may originally contain gypsum, or, on the other hand, dissolution and precipitation processes of compounds from different sources (soil, construction materials or airborne particles) may derive in the formation of new saline minerals. The uptake of such components may interfere with chemical and physical analysis, hindering the interpretation of the data needed to determine the identification, provenance of raw materials, formulation, and production processes of mortars, carried out in archaeometric investigations. This article discusses the presence of such mineral phases in the mortars sampled at the Kom el-Dikka archaeological site located in Alexandria, Egypt, and their effect on the findings. A multi-technique approach was undertaken to characterize the ancient mortars and determine their behaviour and evolution, by using the following analytical techniques; polarised optical microscopy (POM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM–EDS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), thermogravimetry (TG), X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and ion chromatography (IC). The results achieved through archaeometric and geochemical investigations show the presence of different mortars at the Kom el-Dikka site. Also, petrological techniques successfully explain the variation in isotopic composition (13C and 18O) patterns mediated by the presence of the saline and carbonate phases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121085
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Volume268
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under the CLIMORTEC project and the Regional Government of Madrid under the TOP Heritage project (P2018/NMT-4372). Funding was also provided by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in its call for International Cooperation I-COOP 2018 (Ref. COOPA20284). Collaboration from the Geoscience Institute's (IGEO) Petrophysical Laboratory, the Petrology Applied to the Heritage Conservation (921349) research team and the Heritage Laboratory Network in Science and Technology for Heritage Conservation (RedLabPat) is gratefully acknowledged, as is the professional support provided by CSIC's Interdisciplinary Thematic Platform, Open Heritage: Research and Society (PTI-PAIS). The authors wish to thank Egypt's Ministry of Antiques for their assistance with the fieldwork. Special thanks to the English editor Margaret Clark.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under the CLIMORTEC project and the Regional Government of Madrid under the TOP Heritage project (P2018/NMT-4372). Funding was also provided by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in its call for International Cooperation I-COOP 2018 (Ref. COOPA20284).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • C and O
  • Cementation
  • Petrography
  • Recrystallisation
  • Salts
  • Stable isotopes

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