Physicochemical characterization of building and painting materials from the Ptolemaic Osirian catacombs of Karnak temples, Upper Egypt
Department of Conservation, Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University, 12613, Giza, Egypt
2 Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Luxor Office, Luxor, Egypt
Accepted: 8 September 2020
Published online: 21 September 2020
This study reports the first analytical study conducted on samples of fired bricks, bedding mortar and plaster layers collected from the catacombs of Ptolemy IV Philopator at Karnak temples, Upper Egypt. These unique constructions comprise three-level rectangular vaulted brick shrines that lined up in three passages. The microscopic particularities of the samples were assessed by digitalized optical handheld microscope, while the petrographic analysis was depicted by polarized light microscope. X-ray diffractometer was used to analyse some brick, mortar and plaster samples. The morphological description and microchemical analysis, on various points in the samples, were attained via the field-emission scanning electron microscope with an energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer. Further, the molecular and vibrational attributions of some fragments and pigment grains were recognized using Fourier transform infrared spectrometer and Raman microspectrometer (µ-Raman). Results showed that the studied bricks were fired at low temperature using poor-calcium clays. The cross-sectional observation on the plaster layers defined three layers, which are mainly made up of calcium carbonate (calcite). Minerals of quartz, rutile, plagioclase feldspars and calcium silicate were identified, in varying proportions, in the studied plasters. Pigments as Egyptian blue, yellow ochre and red ochre were characterized along the plaster layers. Likely, the microscopic examination and the molecular analysis of the samples disclosed that “fresco” technique was used to decorate the catacombs.
© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020