Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Ancient Artisans Were Masterful Gilders

Thursday, July 25, 2013

072413goldenaltarHR(American Chemical Society)ROME, ITALY--Today’s scientists want to understand the chemistry behind the metal-plating techniques employed by artisans 2,000 years ago so that they can conserve and preserve them for future generations. A team led by Gabriel Maria Ingo of the Institute for Nanostructured Materials Studies examined some of these methods, including one that used mercury as a glue to apply a thin film of gold or silver to statues and other objects. They determined that “the high level of competence reached by the artists and craftsmen of these ancient periods who produced objects of an artistic quality that could not be bettered in ancient times and has not yet been reached in modern ones,” said Ingo said.