Structural analysis of jewelry from the Moche tomb of the 'lady of Cao' by X-ray digital radiography

S. R. Azeredo, R. Cesareo, R. Franco, A. Fernandez, A. Bustamante, R. T. Lopes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nose ornaments from the tomb of the 'Lady of Cao', a mummified woman representative of the Moche culture and dated to the third-or-fourth century AD, were analyzed by X-ray digital radiography. These spectacular gold and silver jewels are some of the most sophisticated metalworking ever produced in ancient America. The Mochecivilization flourished along the north coast of present-day Peru, between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, approximately between 100 and 600 AD. The Moche were very sophisticated artisans and metal smiths, being considered the finest producers of jewels and artifacts of the region. A portable X-ray digital radiography (XDR) system consisting of a flat panel detector with high resolution image and a mini X-ray tube was used for the structural analysis of the Moche jewels aiming at inferring different joining methods of the silver-gold sheets. The radiographic analysis showed some differences in the joint of the silver-and-gold sheets. Presence of filler material and adhesive for joining the silver-and-gold sheets was visible as well as silver-gold junctions without filler material (or with a material invisible in radiography). Furthermore, the technique demonstrated the advantage of using a portable XDR micro system when the sample cannot be brought to the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC04029
JournalJournal of Instrumentation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many thanks to Luciano Mastrolorenzi, eminent goldsmith and sculptor, for experimentally simulating different gold-silver joining methods and for stimulating discussions. This work was partially supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq, (process number 154293/2016-4, Brazil), and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).


  • Inspection with x-rays
  • X-ray radiography and digital radiography (DR)


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