Mortars and binders from built cultural heritage: Analytical techniques in the characterization of ancient materials

Pedro Sousaa*, Fernanda Carvalhoa, Maria Margarida R.A. Limaa, Andreia A.S. Lopesa, Teresa Pereira da Silvab, Elissavet Kavoulakic, Hugo Águasa, João Pedro Veigaa 

a* CENIMAT/I3N—Centro de Investigação em Materiais, UNINOVA—Instituto de Desenvolvimento de Novas Tecnologias, Departamento de Ciência dos Materiais, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal

bLNEG—Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia, I.P., Unidade de Recursos Minerais e Geofísica, Apt. 7586, 2610-999 Amadora, Portugal

cEPHORATE of Antiquities of Heraklion, Xanthoudidou & 1 Chatzidaki str, Heraklion 71202, Greece.

Cultural heritage is today objectively studied by many experts from different areas such as Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Economical Sciences and Digital Sciences.

This multidisciplinary approach and the use of advanced analytical techniques gave cultural heritage science an improved role on the evaluation of historically relevant assets. Materials science researchers play a major role in this subject since they can provide a detailed knowledge of the materials through their characterization, assessment of ancient construction and manufacture techniques and the determination of causes and mechanisms of degradation of materials used in the construction of important monuments or manufacture of historically relevant artifacts.

For the present study samples of mortars and binders from the Palace of Knossos in Crete, Greece, were characterized under the scope of the H2020 HERACLES project [1]. The Palace of Knossos is a major monumental site, considered the first European city, and represents the ceremonial, economic, social and political center of the Minoan civilization. Possible interventions in this type of important monuments must consider the compatibility of materials to be used to guarantee that non‐damaging alternatives are chosen. A good evaluation of scientific test results is, therefore, the first step to provide a better chance of conservation of this kind of structures.

The materials collected in field campaigns were analyzed in their present state or comminuted. A multi-analytical approach was chosen using established protocols for these sample typologies applying X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), Optical Microscopy, Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Raman Spectroscopy, simultaneous differential thermal analysis and thermogravimetry (TG‐DTA) and Helium pycnometry. Results from the chemical, structural and morphological characterization will be presented and discussed in order to give the best possible vision of the typology of materials, state of conservation and possible alteration mechanisms.

[1] This work was supported by the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020 under Grant Agreement 700395 project HERACLES.

Acknowledgment to the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) UID/EAT/00729/2013 and EAT/00729-3 by FEDER funds through the COMPETE 2020 Programme and National Funds through FCT—Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology under the project number POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007688, Reference UID/CTM/50025/2013 NOVA.ID.FCT.

Abstract presented in the Conference Materiais 2019, 14-17 Abril 2019, Lisboa, Portugal