Dating a composite ancient wooden artefact and its modifications. A case study

Poldi, G. and Quartana, L. and Galli, A. and Maspero, F. and Fedi, M. and D'Elia, M. and Quarta, G. and Calcagnile, L. and Mandò, P. A. and Martini, M. (2008) Dating a composite ancient wooden artefact and its modifications. A case study. Il nuovo cimento C, 31 (4). pp. 569-580. ISSN 1826-9885

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The recent restoration of the large wooden doors of the medieval St. Ambrogio Basilica in Milan gave the opportunity for a broad project of scientific examination, including dating with radiocarbon and dendrochronology. The two doors represented a puzzle for art historians, because of the non-documented modifications occurred during their history. In fact, they are composed of various wooden elements, some of them surely modified with the 1750 jubilee restoration, assembled into three layers. The large number of these elements suggested not to restrict the samples only to the main carved scenes, but to extend them to frames and backboards, in order to obtain a consistent set of data and a more reliable chronology. Analytical campaign oriented to dating, coordinated by Quartana Restauri and LAM (University of Bergamo), took into account the different characteristics of woods, needing 24 samples carefully extracted from hidden areas to be radiocarbon dated by AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) at CEDAD(Centre for Dating and Diagnostics, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy) laboratories, and two of them dated at LABEC (Laboratory of nuclear techniques for cultural heritage, University of Florence and INFN, Italy) for comparison. The results obtained for the vertical woods of the back, belonging to Renaissance period, suggested further studies employing dendrochronological analyses based on high-resolution photographs, carried out by CUDaM (University of Milano-Bicocca). ED-XRF (Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence) analyses were also carried on, by LAM, with portable instruments, in order to study the composition of the residues of polychromy, where present. The obtained results show a radical alteration of an original work being divided and recomposed inserting more recent parts, as well as—surprisingly—older ones. At least five different ages can be recognized in the woods. The most ancient parts, thought to belong to the 4th century AD according to stylistic exam, appear to be of the first century of the Christian era. The interdisciplinary approach, analytical methods and main results are discussed together with some historical implications.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Other topics in areas of applied and interdisciplinary physics ; Mass spectrometry (including SIMS, multiphoton ionization and resonance ionization mass spectrometry, MALDI) ; X-ray, M¨ossbauer, and other γ-ray spectroscopic analysis methods
Subjects: 500 Scienze naturali e Matematica > 530 Fisica
Depositing User: Marina Spanti
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 16:56
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2020 16:56

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