What You Clean Is What You Get: A Novel Chemical Cleaning Technique and the Interpretation of Corrosion Products Found in Late Roman Copper Alloy Coins Retrieved from the Sea

Maayan Cohen*, Alexandra Inberg, Dana Ashkenazi, Deborah Cvikel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Thirteen Late Roman copper alloy coins with a dark concretion layer from the Early Islamic period Ma‘agan Mikhael B shipwreck were chosen to undergo an experimental chemical cleaning and polishing procedure for removing the concretion while limiting the damage to the surviving metal. These coins, and two more without concretion discovered on the beach nearby, were then subjected to a series of non-destructive analyses–visual testing, XRF, multi-focal light microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy–to determine their state of preservation, identify their corrosion products, and acquire information regarding their core material. An additional coin was examined by destructive metallographic light microscopy and SEM-EDS analyses to gain further information concerning the concretion cover. Preservation varied: For some chemically cleaned coins, a shiny orange-coloured metallic surface was exposed, while others were poorly preserved. Moreover, evidence of the stamping process was also observed. The results show that the suggested chemical cleaning treatment could be useful for processing other copper alloy objects retrieved from underwater environments; we propose a 12-step methodology to this effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3628-3647
Number of pages20
JournalHeritage
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Funding

FundersFunder number
Honor Frost Foundation
Israel Science Foundation1891/16
University of Haifa

    Keywords

    • Ma‘agan Mikhael B
    • Mediterranean
    • cleaning procedure
    • concretion
    • copper alloy coin
    • corrosion products
    • shipwreck

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