Unalloyed copper inclusions in ancient bronze artefacts

Research paper by C. Bosi, G. L. Garagnani, V. Imbeni, C. Martini, R. Mazzeo, G. Poli

Indexed on: 01 Oct '02Published on: 01 Oct '02Published in: Journal of Materials Science


Ancient bronze artifacts, that represent a considerable part of the archeological finds, have been largely studied because of their complex degradation phenomena taking place in the long time span that have not been fully understood. One of the peculiar features of ancient bronzes is the presence of inclusions of copper unalloyed with tin. Unalloyed Copper Inclusions (UCI) have been observed in buried archaeological bronze artefacts by several authors, but each paper reports only on a limited number of cases. In our extensive studies on bronze artefacts, UCI have been observed in many bronze artefacts with very different features and purposes. Both as-cast and wrought artefacts were studied, so that the influence of the manufacturing process and the composition of the artefacts on the formation of UCI might be evaluated. The microstructure and composition of these artefacts were studied and the features of UCI have been related with those of the surrounding phases. The results have been discussed and compared with those obtained by other authors. The presence of UCI in buried archaeological bronze artefacts could indicate some unusual corrosion processes that might need to be accounted for when designing conservation treatments.