Authenticity of Roman imperial age silver coins using non-destructive archaeometric techniques

Aydın, Mahmut
Imitation of archeological artifacts or replacing the authentic ones with fake replicates is a universal problem; it is particularly important in Turkey for historical metal objects. Traditionally used visual inspection methods alone are not sufficient for the solution of contemporary problems. In this study, chemical characterization has been used to determine the differences between the authentic and fake objects. The non-destructive analyses were carried out by Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (P-XRF). Silver Roman Coins (27 B.C. to 244 A.D.) were the objects handled in this research. In particular the concentrations of Zr, Pt, Pb and Bi were used for differentiation; it has been observed that the concentrations have different trends in the authentic and fake silver coins. In authentic coins the average Pb concentration was found to be 0.77%, while this value was 0.055% for the fake ones. Bi could be determined in 86% of the authentic coins while it could not be detected in any fake coin. It has been generally observed that the silver and copper concentrations could not be utilized in authenticity tests. Another approach was the use of Line Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (LSEM-EDX). Using LSEM-EDX technique, it was observed that the concentration changes near the interface between the matrix and the copper-rich locations exhibits difference behaviors for the authentic and fake objects. This difference is originated by the fact that a newly formed copper amalgam contains copper-rich phases while with extended time concentration changes at interfaces become more gradual or not detectable. Pearson correlation was used in order to elucidate the relations between the element concentrations determined by P-XRF. In order to see whether the authentic and silver fake coins can form separate groups, dendograms have been constructed utilizing SPSS 16.0 software and Euclidian Square Distance method. It has been observed that the authentic and fake coins can be successfully grouped when the proper statistical choices are used. It has been observed that these groups have significant differences using t-test. The selected and used technology is proposed for use by museums and entities keeping archaeological collections in order to prevent forgeries.
Citation Formats
M. Aydın, “Authenticity of Roman imperial age silver coins using non-destructive archaeometric techniques,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2013.