Environmental dust: A tool to study the patina of ancient artifacts

E. Ganor, J. Kronfeld, H. R. Feldman*, A. Rosenfeld, S. Ilani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dust is a significant, albeit under-recognized, component of ancient patinas that accumulates on exposed surfaces of artifacts. Dust storms are ubiquitous in the Levant; however, often unnoticed substances such as minerals, microfossils and pollen can be found within the patina of an artifact, preserving its geological signature. Modern anthropogenic aerosol sources are often characterized by the presence of heavy metals. Pollen from fruits and shrubs that are not indigenous, if found in the patina, can be used to differentiate recent artifacts from those of antiquity. Archaeological materials that are exposed to local environmental and depositional processes in a tel, a cave or soil, may accrete in a patina over time and may have some dust components reflective of the environmental record. The scores of unprovenanced looted antiquities have necessitated the need to differentiate a genuine artifact from a modern fraud. Since the geological component of the dust in the Levant is known, and the climate and its attendant wind patterns apparently were quite constant during recent millennia times, the dust in the patinas of a true artifact is easy to differentiate from patinas containing modern dust. Both contemporary and historical dust can serve as tools to authenticate an artifact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1170-1176
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Aerosols
  • Anthropogenic
  • Artifact
  • Dust
  • Microfossils
  • Patina
  • Pollen


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental dust: A tool to study the patina of ancient artifacts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this